A month ago, I launched the UK2070 Commission Final Report Make No Little Plans: Acting At Scale For a Fairer and Stronger Future.
The Report presents a 10-Point programme of action to tackle the regional inequalities that have blighted the UK for too long. It highlights the need to ‘think big’ if economic performance and social conditions are to be levelled-up across the UK.
This report received wide support nationally, regionally and locally. The agenda for action has been endorsed across the country, from the Tyne to Cornwall, from Glasgow to London and from all the devolved nations. It received wide coverage in all the major national media and press. It has, as a result, helped generate a national conversation, reflected in the level of media traffic, with over 100,000 online hits on the day of the launch alone.
It is also clear that the agenda set out in the Report is reflected in the range of actions that have been set in hand by the Government immediately before the COVID 19 crisis. This includes the Chancellor’s budget statement on levelling up, including the priority that needs to be given to increasing significantly the investment in R&D and the Infrastructure of the UK.
The current COVID19 crisis itself has two implications for the work of the Commission:
- Firstly, on a practical level we have had to rethink our programme – for example, the regional road-shows have had to be put on hold.
- Secondly, the June event in the House of Lords to present a 100-day Report will now not take place.
This however does not lessen the importance of the Commission’s call for action. Not since the Second World War has there been a greater need for a clear Vision for the renewal of the UK, its wealth and wellbeing, as presented in our Report. It is now even more important to maintain our effort, albeit through different channels.
We are therefore continuing to engage with Government and other key bodies in anticipation of the need to kick-start the economy and to adapt to inevitable change with the same energy that is being applied to defeating the pandemic itself. I will therefore prepare a Progress Report for publication as soon as it is appropriate. This will take forward the proposals in the report, refresh its analytical basis and take account of any new evidence.
I therefore seek the continuing support of all – from government, business, civil society, think tanks and universities. On a practical basis you could do this by signing up to our Declaration of Intent and letting us know of any new evidence that you are aware of that we should bear in mind. In addition, I would welcome any think piece that you could contribute to the development of our thinking on the implications of the current crisis and the need for levelling-up of the UK.