Independent inquiry into UK’s regional inequalities is launched

  • University of Sheffield academics join UK 2070 Commmission - an independent inquiry into the UK's regional inequalities
  • Commission, led by Lord Kerslake, will explore costs and consequences, identify underlying causes, and make recommendations for new policies to tackle the problems of poorer places, whilst supporting the sustainable growth of successful places

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The University of Sheffield is part of a new research partnership supporting UK 2070, an independent Commission into the UK’s regional inequalities which has been launched at a reception in the House of Lords today (9 October 2018).

The Commission’s inquiry will examine the nature of inequalities across the regions and nations of the UK, explore the costs and consequences, identify underlying causes, and make recommendations for new policies to tackle the problems of poorer places, whilst supporting the sustainable growth of successful places.

The Commission’s membership includes academics from five universities and the USA’s Lincoln Institute for Land Policy (Cambridge, MA), as well representatives from the Confederation of British Industry, Core Cities, Institute for Public Policy Research North, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, the North West Business Leadership Team, West Midlands Combined Authority, and the consultancies AECOM and Barton Willmore.

They will be supported by a research partnership involving the University of Sheffield, the University of Manchester, University College London, the University of Liverpool and the University of Cambridge.

“There will always be differences between places, but Britain has some of the most extreme regional disparities in the developed world - these impose great costs on society, and handicap our economic performance and productivity,” said former Civil Service Head Lord Kerslake, who is chairing the inquiry.

“It does not have to be like this – as many other countries demonstrate.”

Professor Alasdair Rae, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and one of the Commissioners, said: "I'm delighted to be involved in the UK 2070 Commission, but not because it draws upon my experience as an urban and regional analyst. Instead, I'm excited by the fact that our Chair, Lord Kerslake, is starting this critically important work by listening to what others have to say about the state of urban and regional inequalities in the UK."

He added: “Expert commentators often assume that they know what the problems are, and that it’s just the political will to fix them that we're missing. This may be the case, but it may not, so through the work of the UK 2070 Commission we're seeking to go beyond tired ideas of 'north vs south' or 'London vs the rest' to truly understand the nature of the UK's persistent regional inequalities and what can be done about it.

Through the work of the UK 2070 Commission we're seeking to go beyond tired ideas of 'north vs south' or 'London vs the rest' to truly understand the nature of the UK's persistent regional inequalities and what can be done about it.

Professor Alasdair Rae

“It is only by taking a long-term approach that something can be done, and that's why we're looking to the long-term with this Commission."

The Commission will carry out its work over the next 12 months, delivering a final report in November 2019. Alongside commissioned research and papers the Commission will launch a call for evidence, to be received by November 2018.

“We need strategies for places left behind as much as places with economic potential, in Britain and America alike,” said Armando Carbonell from the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, which is also helping to fund the study. “Laissez faire and abandonment is just not an option - the social and political consequences are too damaging, and could put our social cohesion and democratic institutions at risk. We hope to learn much from this inquiry, which will be of relevance to both Britain and to the USA.”

Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and Chair of Core Cities, said: “In part the problems are caused by historic factors, but we need to find out whether they are also shaped by government decisions which have not been thought through.

“These may include concentrating resources for growth and development in congested places and generating demands for new infrastructure, whilst putting pressure on the environment.”

Find out more about the UK 2070 Commission

Additional information

Commissioners

Lord Kerslake (Chair)

Judith Blake
Leader of Leeds City Council and Chair of the Core Cities UK Network

Gillian Bristow
Professor in Economic Geography at Cardiff University

Armando Carbonell
Chair of the urban planning program at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Jagjit Chadha
Director of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

Ed Cox
Director of Public Services and Communities within the Action Research Centre of the RSA.

Emma Degg
Chief Executive of the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT).

Trudi Elliott
Chairs the Board of the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales

Julia Goldsworthy
Director of Strategy for the West Midlands Combined Authority

Andrew Jones
Leads both AECOM’s Design Planning + Economics team and Cities programmes

Anna Leach
Head of Economic Intelligence at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

Sarah Longlands
Director of IPPR North

Philip McCann
Chair of Urban & Regional economics, University of Sheffield

Graeme Purves
Former Assistant Chief Planner with the Scottish Government

Alasdair Rae
Professorial Fellow, Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield

Mark Sitch
Senior Planning Partner, Barton Willmore LLP

Hugh Sykes
International Industrialist and Investor, Former Chairman of the Sheffield Development Corporation.

John Tomaney
Professor of Urban and Regional Planning in the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London

Phil Williams
First Director of Planning and Place, Belfast City

Cecilia Wong
Professor of Spatial Planning at Manchester Urban Institute

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

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Contact

For further information please contact: 

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046
h.postles@sheffield.ac.uk