The UK2070 Commission is making available this page of reports, research and viewpoints alongside our Final Report, which was published on Thursday 27th February 2020.

The Think Pieces published below helped to inform the Commission’s First, Second and Final Reports, and are displayed here chronologically as published, with the most recently published pieces at the top of this page.

Learn more about the founding of the Commission in July 2018 by clicking here to read either our full prospectus; our summary prospectus or to read our Frequently Asked Questions page.

The UK2070 Papers – Series 1

The UK2070 Commission has set out a 10-Point Plan to tackle the regional inequalities that have blighted the UK for too long. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for the Government to ‘think big’ if economic performance and social conditions are to be levelled-up across the UK.

The UK2070 Commission is therefore preparing a report to the Government proposing a clear plan for levelling-up, with coherent priorities. It has received a great deal of support for this initiative, including a range of think-pieces, which it has therefore prosed to issue as the UK2070 Papers.

The first edition is now published, with subsequent editions to follow. Series One has nine papers focussing on the impact of COVID-19 on the future of the UK, including:

  • The weaknesses of the UK’s centralised political and economic system, which is threatening to intensify regional inequalities still further;
  • The need for fresh and radical policies to deal with the impacts on export markets, transport systems and town centres; and
  • The need for renewed devolution to allow distinctive local approaches to policy whether this is from Scottish and Welsh perspectives, Bristol City’s ‘One City Approach’ or local councils generally.

To read The UK2070 Papers – Series 1, please click here.

UK2070 Commissioner publishes Think Piece entitled Moving Forward From Lockdown: Some Perspectives from Scotland and Wales

Despite the ongoing COVID 19 crisis and our resulting statement in response, the UK2070 Commission continues its series of Think Pieces by publishing further evidence submitted to the Commission. The second such think piece is by UK2070 Commissioner, Dr. Graeme Purves.

As an Assistant Chief Planner with the Scottish Government, Dr. Purves led the teams which prepared Scotland’s First and Second National Planning Frameworks, and played an active role in developing links between the Celtic and Baltic countries.  He recently advised the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee of the National Assembly for Wales on the Welsh Government’s draft National Development Framework.

Dr. Purves draws on his experience to consider some distinctive Scottish and Welsh dimensions to the issues addressed in The Final Report of the UK2070 Commission: Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future; and indicates how thinking has developed in the light of the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic since the Commission’s Final Report was published in February.

To read Dr. Purves’ report in full, please click here.

Think Piece published on the dilemma of central-local relations in England

Despite the ongoing COVID 19 crisis and our resulting statement in response, the UK2070 Commission today continues its series of Think Pieces, by publishing further evidence submitted to the Commission.

Local government researcher, writer and analyst Dr. Mark Sandford’s paper – in response to previous reports written by the UK2070 Commission – considers the question of “how a central government leads, funds and implements a transformative policy programme whilst simultaneously acknowledging legitimate demands from local political actors to implement variations to the national government’s aims.” Dr. Sandford’s paper considers how devolution of power works in England, with a particular focus on the governance constraints of metro-mayors; before considering ‘the straightjacket of accountability’ local actors face and a number of narratives of accountability in response to this.

Dr. Sandford argues that while devolution of more power may be desirable both administratively and politically, it is a “necessary but not sufficient route to creating ‘effective devolution and decentralisation'” and uses the example that metro-mayors’ “practical access to powers is not as broad as it appears from the devolution deals and Parliamentary orders establishing them…[so] these constraints mean that mayors often do not have the means to deliver expansive policy change.” Dr. Sandford concludes that potential future responses to this could include piloting the concept of Local Public Accounts Committees; an exploration of the options around fiscal devolution, and “a more explicit understanding of the ways Whitehall interprets requirements for policy and financial accountability; and how these could be relaxed to permit greater policy divergence.”

To read the report in full, please click here.

Declaration of Intent: The Final Report of the UK2070 Commission: Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future

The UK2070 Commission issued its Final Report Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future and an Executive Summary of the Report on Thursday 27th February 2020. Alongside our Final Report, the UK2070 Commission calls upon Government, local leaders and all parties to sign up to this Declaration of Intent and start now with urgency to implement the programme of action for creating a fairer, stronger and more sustainable future for the whole of the UK.

To read the Declaration of Intent in full, please click here.

Executive Summary: The Final Report of the UK2070 Commission: Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future

The UK2070 Commission issued its Final Report Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future and an Executive Summary of the Report on Thursday 27th February 2020, with Commission chair Lord Kerslake, the former Head of the Home Civil Service, warning Government that it must “go big or go home” if it is to arrest further economic decline and social division.

Lord Kerslake said: “The Government’s desire to level up the UK economy is welcome. However, the scale of the challenge we face is such that we need a generational shift if we are to avoid serious decline and division. Many people in Britain feel left behind by growth elsewhere and that has contributed to an acrimonious debate about Europe. We now face a decade of potential disruption – leaving the European Union, confronting the impact of climate change and adjusting to the fourth industrial revolution.

“Our research shows clearly that these inequalities did not grow up overnight. They reflect an over-centralised system that fails to comprehend the reality of regional need and consistently comes up with policies that are either under-resourced, too fragmented, or too short-lived to make a difference. Some policy guidelines have actively stacked the odds against the regions. Time is not on our side and we cannot afford to keep on repeating those mistakes. Government must therefore think big, plan big and act at scale. Bluntly, if it can’t go big, it should go home.”

To read the Executive Summary, please click here, or alternatively please scroll down to read the Main Report.

The Final Report of the UK2070 Commission: Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future

The UK2070 Commission issued its Final Report Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future on Thursday 27th February 2020. The UK2070 Commission calls on Government to stand alongside business and community organisations and make a public pledge to tackle inequality through a 10-point programme contained within the Final Report. Amongst these are:

  • Tripling the new Shared Prosperity Fund to £15bn per annum and continuing that commitment for 20 years – an extra expenditure of £200bn over that already planned.
  • Investing in a new connectivity revolution, transforming the connections between cities, within cities and beyond cities to poorly connected towns. Infrastructure investment needs to increase to at least 3% of GDP per annum.
  • Creating new ‘Networks of Excellence” in regional Research and Development to match the ‘Golden Triangle’ of London, Oxford and Cambridge.
  • Shifting power and funding away from Westminster and Whitehall through a radical programme of devolution.
  • Strengthening the local economies in disadvantaged towns.
  • Tackling the historic underperformance of the UK on skills.

To read our Final Report in full, please click here.

UK2070 Commission Final Report, Background Report – The Devo 3.0 Review

The Devo 3.0 Review: Laying The Foundations For More And Better Devolution – An Audit of Devolution Decision Makers’ and Opinion Formers’ Views for the UK2070 Commission

This background report, published on Thursday 27 February 2020 alongside The Final Report of the UK2070 Commission: Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future was conducted for the UK2070 Commission by Steve Barwick and Jack Hutchison of DevoConnectDevoConnect were commissioned by the UK2070 Commission to undertake an audit of decision makers and opinion formers to review the strengths and weaknesses of the Metro Mayoral model of devolution, and to identify what in the long-term both more and better devolution may look like. Forty two individuals deemed by the authors to be central to the future of devolution – including Metro Mayors; local authority leaders; think tanks; advocacy groups; quangos and business associations as well as Parlaimentarians who have been particularly active on the issue – responded to a questionnaire. This report is a qualitative and quantitative summary of their responses.

The report names three key benefits being delivered by Metro Mayors – before going on to state four main weaknesses and ten consensus conclusions which emerged as potential principles that should inform the next wave of devolution – Devo 3.0.

To read the report in full, please click here.

UK2070 Commission Final Report, Background Report – Modelling a Pan-National UK Network

This background report, published on Thursday 27 February 2020 alongside The Final Report of the UK2070 Commission: Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future was prepared for the UK2070 Commission by David Simmonds Consultancy Limited. The report builds upon the Background Report published by Greengauge21 to identify the UK’s 2070 transport infrastructure requirements, and identifies three main areas of focus, at three different scales, for a potential UK Network. The first is the national-regional scale, improving links between cities/urban areas within the UK; the second is the regional-intraurban scale, improving links within urban areas; and the third is the regional-local scale, addressing those peripheral, ‘left-behind’ areas.

This report then adds to this by carrying out strategic what-if modelling work to forecast the potential impact of transformative changes to the UK’s transport network. The report focuses on modelling shrinking the UK, by way of improving transport links at the three levels described: shrinking East to West as HS2 has done North to South (Package A – ‘Improving Intercity Connectivity’); shrinking urban areas themselves to increase the gravitational pull towards them, from the surrounding area (Package B – ‘Improving Intraurban Mobility’); and moving peripheral areas closer to major centres of business and commerce (Package C – ‘Reconnecting Marginalised Communities’). These three packages are modelled separately to demonstrate the scale of the change brought about by each, and then as a combined package to demonstrate a possible effect of a pan-national UK Network.

To read the report in full, please click here.

University of Liverpool Policy Brief published by UK2070 Commission prior to publication of Final Report.

Ahead of the UK2070 Commission publishing its Final Report next week, the UK2070 Commission is today publishing more of its evidence base by posting a Policy Brief written by academics at the Geographic Data Science Lab at the University of Liverpool. The paper, written by Dr. Francisco Rowe, Nikos Patias & Dr. Dani Arribas-Bel, considers the geographical structure and temporal change of neighbourhoods in Britain between 1971 and 2011 by creating temporally- and geographically consistent 1km gridded data sets of population counts, encompassing demographic, socioeconomic and housing attributes, from the Censuses conducted in 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011.

Amongst many other findings, their work finds that there was a considerable decline in the number of struggling neighbourhoods in Scotland between 1971 and 2011; that blue collar family neighbourhoods have practically disappeared; and that neighbourhoods which were affluent and multiculturally diverse in the 1970s have largely remained unchanged over the last 40 years. Their report goes on to find that “struggling neighbourhoods have consistently been more prevalent in northern regions encompassing North West, North East England and Scotland, while thriving and affluent neighbourhoods have prevailed in southern regions across London, South East and South West England.” Similarly the report states that “blue collar family neighbourhoods disappeared across all British regions after 1991, and were replaced mainly by older striving and mixed suburban workers, highlighting the shift to a service-based economy.” Lastly the report goes on to find that “the number of struggling neighbourhoods have declined in Scotland, with a corresponding rise in the number of thriving and affluent neighbourhoods, reflecting the rapid growth of the Scottish economy in the mid-1980s.”

To see the report and interactive mapping in full, please click here.

Discussion Paper on an ‘MIT for the North’ published by the UK2070 Commission.

Stephen Nicol of Nicol Economics and Professor Ian Wray – visiting professor and Heseltine Institute Fellow at the University of Liverpool and UK2070 Commissioner – have today published a discussion paper for the UK2070 Commission entitled Should We Have an ‘MIT for the North?’ In their paper, the co-authors consider the levels of investment in Research and Development (R&D) both in the North of England and in other UK regions to establish if a variant of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the North of England would be a benefit for the wider United Kingdom. This report draws widely upon data from the UK2070 Policy Report – Industrial Strategy & Industry 4.0: Structure, People and Place written by the Manchester Urban Institute at University of Manchester and The First Report of the UK2070 Commission: Fairer and Stronger – Rebalancing the UK Economy.

The co-authors find that the UK spends too little on R&D compared to other advanced countries, and particularly too little on innovation organisation and manufacturing-led innovation. They also find that the UK’s national research efforts are primarily concentrated upon ‘The Golden Triangle’ between Cambridge, London and Oxford which in turn is distant from much of the UK’s manufacturing base. Furthermore, they find that while the North of England has some excellent research universities and individual departments, the UK’s globally important institutions are largely in The Golden Triangle with government research institutes and private sector research activity also increasingly congregating there. They therefore consider what sort of institution is required in the North of England; what might be its institutional and secretarial objectives; what scale and source of funding should be used for this institution; and what the institution’s governance arrangements be.

To read the report in full, please click here.

UK2070 Commissioner publishes paper on soft infrastructure.

Professor Ian Wray – visiting professor and Heseltine Institute Fellow at the University of Liverpool; Vice Chair of World Heritage UK and UK2070 Commissioner – has today published a new discussion paper for the UK2070 Commission entitled Soft Infrastructure and Regional & National Development. Professor Wray’s report considers how the creative sector is likely to be become an increasingly important part of our the UK economy as machine intelligence and robotics automate a wider range of current productive activity and therefore studies existing spatial inequalities in investment of ‘soft infrastructure’ – namely the arts, culture, sport, media, heritage and the environment.

Professor Wray considers a number of examples – such as The City of Liverpool’s culture and environment led regeneration; the nationwide spatial differences of distributing arts spending, and varying levels of investment across the UK in World Heritage Sites; National Parks and at various Ballets. Professor Wray concludes that “far more could be done to utilise ‘soft infrastructure’ as a vehicle for balanced national and regional development [and that] the current tilt of public investment [in ‘soft infrastructure’] towards London and the South East is a significant contributor to the relative weakness of the UK’s English regional economies as well as the devolved nations.”

To read Professor Wray’s report in full, please click here.

The Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies publish response to the UK2070 Commission’s Second Report.

Professor Andy Pike, Professor Mike Coombes, Louise Kempton, Professor Danny MacKinnon and Dr. Peter O’Brien from The Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies at Newcastle University (CURDS) have published a response to UK2070’s Second Report. Their submission focuses upon the UK2070 Commission’s proposals for decentralisation in England and specifically the establishment of trans-regional provinces; and considers the proposed provinces by comparing them to their national and European context to assess their appropriateness as governance arrangements.

The report finds that the proposed provinces for the UK are generally large geographically, but also contain on average larger populations than those in comparable European nations. Meanwhile, with only seven proposed provinces/nations proposed for the UK, the report finds that in comparison the selected European countries are divided into around two-to-three times more regions. The report also finds that only two of the seven proposed UK provinces/nations have fewer than five million residents, whereas in four of the five comparator countries over two-thirds of their regions are of this smaller size.

The paper therefore goes on to argue that “the relatively large population and size of the proposed English Provinces might be seen as a realistic structure designed to tackle processes operating over large areas in a highly integrated space economy. Yet it is also arguable that the Provinces are a technocratic proposal that is fated to fail as a result of a lack of popular identification with its new amalgamated regions.” The report goes on to add that “large regions such as the proposed Provinces may be appropriate for a highly integrated economic geography such as that of England, but perhaps only if each Province is entrusted with powers similar to those of Scotland, including the ability to raise its own taxes.”

The CURDS academics conclude that they are not arguing against further decentralisation; but instead “to think through and clarify what decentralisation is for and how it works in England and to set this out in a clear, open and transparent road map.”

To read the CURDS submission in its entirety, please click here.

The Bartlett School of Planning publish new research on civil society’s perspectives of inequality.

The UK2070 Commission is today pleased to publish new research written by Dr. Lucy Natarajan, Elisabeta Ilie & Dr. Hyunji Cho of The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London entitled Civil Society Perspectives on Inequality: Focus Group Research Findings Report. The researchers conducted a series of five focus groups with civil society organisations in England with the goal of eliciting an initial understanding of the types of ‘symptoms’ of inequality and associated narratives from various civil society groups; with a view to using a qualitative research approach to add depth on places shown to be ‘left-behind’. The data collected provides initial information on the common types of experiences and discourses in left-behind places across England – with each focus group being attended by representatives of local civil society actors that had interests in economic, environmental and social issues.

The research found that narrative was that the ‘lay’ public should not be ‘done to’, and that strategy should take on board ‘lived experience’; while also finding many people who spoke in terms of decisions needing to be more ‘sensitive to localities’, and having ‘leadership from beyond Westminster’. Additionally respondents identified how a joined-up policy context would help them in their own work, and called for a more ‘needs-oriented’ spatial policy context; while also finding that coordinating strategy and stronger urban planning processes could help to achieve minimise injustices through ‘needs-oriented’ development processes and maximise the ‘social value of land use’. Civil society organisations included local trusts or societies and interest groups and associations – with each being interviewed for their deep experiential knowledge of communities and localities.

To find out more, and to read the report in full, please click here.

Richard McWilliams, Programme Advisory Director at Turner Townsend, publishes report for the UK2070 Commission.

In response to our Second Interim Report, Moving Up The Gears: The Seven National Priorities for Actionthe UK2070 Commission are today pleased to publish a response submitted by Richard McWilliams – Programme Advisory Director for UK Technology at Turner & Townsend Infrastructure. Mr McWilliams’ report is entitled A Just Transition: How improving the energy performance of social housing can help mitigate the impact of climate change on disadvantaged communities by reducing fuel poverty, improving quality of life, and creating a new industry and examines the role that ‘deep whole-house retrofit’ could play in addressing the carbon zero agenda; the mitigation of climate risk amongst those in the existing social housing stock, the consequential benefits in terms of health and quality of life, and the opportunity it presents to encourage the growth of a new industry likely to need substantial numbers of semi-skilled and skilled workers.

Mr McWilliams goes on to argue that retrofit is consistent with the aims of the UK2070 Commission, and that “the breadth of the opportunity is such that government should consider a range of policy frameworks, fiscal incentives and financial support that opens up a pathway from early stage innovation – where active pilots will identify improvements and efficiencies from scheme design to on-site delivery – through to commercial viability and roll-out at scale”. Mr McWillams draws upon his experience with both the Greater London Authority’s Retrofit Accelerator Homes (RAH) initiative and the Energiesprong pilot project in Nottingham, to argue that “deep whole-house retrofit can make a significant, single-step contribution to the UK’s net carbon zero targets, whilst enabling a series of consequential gains consistent with the aims of the UK2070 Commission.”

To read Richard McWilliams’ report in full, please click here.

Professor Ian Bateman OBE and Sara Zonneveld publish new paper for UK2070 Commission.

The UK2070 Commission is today pleased to publish a paper by Professor Ian Bateman OBE, FRSA, FSB and Sara Zonneveld, both of the University of Exeter, which considers net environmental gain in the context of both the built urban environment and of human wellbeing. Bateman and Zonneveld find that in real terms spending to enhance environmental quality, especially in terms of urban or peri-urban green infrastructure, is at a historic low – this despite environmental enhancement being found to directly improve wellbeing and to regenerate local economies. They find that this is particularly pertinent as those who have to endure low quality environments often suffer from degraded health and a lower life expectancy which in turn could both be boosted by such an intervention. The paper considers the recent UK Government proposals for the introduction of a net Environmental Gain requirement upon building new housing and potentially infrastructure, and presents a number of examples to enhance social wellbeing through improved decision-making regarding the siting of environmental improvements, particularly arguing against constraining compensation to be awarded as close as possible to developments, but to instead consider a regional scale for such undertakings.

Professor Ian Bateman OBE is an environmental economist with a research interest centred around ensuring sustainable wellbeing through the integration of natural and social science knowledge within decision making and policy. He received the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award for 2011-2016 and has worked as an adviser or consultant to Defra, the DfT, the DoH and the OECD amongst others. In 2013 he was awarded an OBE for services to environmental science and policy, and is also a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Society of Biology.
Sara Zonneveld is is a biologist with a background in ecology and ornithology, with her main research interests centred around understanding how ecological factors affect bird breeding and distributions. She is an Impact Fellow for the South West Partnership for Environment and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP) where she is working on natural capital approaches in Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks; alongside studying for her PhD at the University of Exeter.

Read Professor Bateman and Sara Zonneveld’s Report in full here.

Last of three Think Pieces submitted by Arup is today published.

To conclude our series of three Think Pieces submitted to the UK2070 Commission by Arup, Associate Director of Planning, Policy and Economics, Jane Healey Brown has agreed to her piece Rethinking Decision Making being published on the UK2070 website. Her piece argues that in the United Kingdom “we have had decades where the focus has been on economic growth alone, but there is now a growing realisation that this is increasing inequality, which in turn is slowing growth. Therefore, a redistributive growth model can and should benefit the UK as a whole.” The example of the Suffragettes is also used as an example of how fundamental changes in decision making can be achieved, but may take decades or even centuries to be implemented.

In her report, Jane Healey Brown analyses the present process of decision-making for public investments in the UK, before considering the opportunities for rethinking this decision making – with particular reference to both an appraisal of HM Treasury’s Green Book and of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Jane is a Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute and serves as a Greater Manchester Commissioner for Planning and Housing. She has worked on a range of projects, including the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point C and Sellafield.

Read Jane Healey Brown’s Report in full here.

Second Arup UK2070 Think Piece published by Arup’s Chief Economist, Alexander Jan.

In our continuing series of three Think Pieces submitted to the UK2070 Commission by Arup, the company’s Chief Economist, Alexander Jan, has today submitted an article entitled Tackling long standing regional imbalances in England – the case for more radical devolution. In the piece, Alexander Jan argues that “any process to tackle long standing regional imbalances in England won’t work unless there is a radical shift in resources and decisions for city and regional leaders.” The paper speaks of how in England there is “now something of a devolution deficit compared to Scotland and Wales” despite the establishment of city deals, housing deals, devo deals or indeed the Greater London Authority; with instead much decision taking still being made centrally in Whitehall.

Alexander Jan considers three major issues which he feels should be tackled: that the government needs to embark on a devolution agenda which results in a lasting and radical shift in how England is governed; that Whitehall needs to allow local government to create more diverse solutions to the problems it faces rather than the present one-size-fits-all solution; and lastly that local government needs to expand upon its present limited control over its tax base. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and has over twenty five years of policy, government and consultancy experience – much of which was gained from working on London transport and infrastructure projects, including working at the Confederation of British Industry, Greater London Authority, KPMG and the Civil Aviation Authority.

Read Alexander Jan’s Report in full here.

First of three UK2070 Think Pieces submitted by Arup published.

The UK2070 Commission today publishes three Think Pieces written by Arup, the first of which is written by Arup’s Director Cities Advisory, Tom Bridges. Entitled The MIT of the North? Building an innovation-driven economy the piece discusses how, despite the UK having a number of strong universities and successful businesses away from the London-Oxford-Cambridge ‘Golden Triangle’ there has yet to be an “innovation-led-economy with sufficient strength, coherence and critical mass” created there. Tom Bridges argues that it is critical that this is created as at this time of swift economic and technological change as it his belief that the towns, cities and regions that will be most successful in the knowledge economy are those that can “create and commercialise innovation.”

Tom Bridges determines four important implications for UK cities and regions: that a place-based approach is important; that the UK should continue to support the development of innovation districts; that there needs to be a stronger focus on building networks for collaboration and that the UK should seek to tackle the significant regional imbalances in Research and Development funding. He is a chartered town planner with over 22 years’ experience in economic development, town planning, urban and regional policy, transport, regeneration and city operations.

Read Tom Bridge’s Report in full here.

Executive Summary: The Second Report of the UK2070 Commission: Moving Up The Gears – Seven National Priorities for Action

The UK2070 Commission, which is chaired by the former head of the Civil Service, Lord Kerslake, says deep-rooted economic divides across the UK will worsen unless government addresses strategic failings in regional policy which stretch back 50 years. The Commission reported earlier this year that London’s global success was contrasted elsewhere in the UK with some of the worst inequalities in Europe, with stop-start regional policy failing to tackle problems that have led to economic under-performance and lower healthy life expectancy.

Our Second Report, which is released today [20 September 2019], says government must urgently develop a long-term vision for the UK which decisively addresses deprivation, unlocks regional economic potential and confronts the challenges presented by  climate change and new technologies. The UK2070 Commission has identified seven national priorities for action which we believe are vital if worsening performance and widening divisions between different parts of the UK are to be avoided.

To read the Executive Summary, please click here, or alternatively please scroll down to read the Main Report.

The Second Report of the UK2070 Commission: Moving Up The Gears – Seven National Priorities for Action

The UK2070 Commission has today published our Second Report Moving Up The Gears – Seven National Prioroties for Action in which we have made a series of detailed recommendations intended to rebalance the UK economy, whilst sustaining the performance of London and the South East. Those recommendations are in summary:

1] Climate Change: protect disadvantaged communities who are most at risk from its impact and use the market opportunities created by a move to a carbon zero economy to rebalance our economic geography.
2] Deliver a 20-year connectivity revolution: commit to renewing and extending out-dated transport infrastructure so that it reflects the present economy rather than the past; reconnect marginalised communities and shift towards shared transport and new technologies.
3] Create a global centre of excellence in industrial digital technologies: bring Britain’s leading regional universities together to power-up technologies that have the capacity to create 20,000 businesses, increase economic value by £1.2bn a year and upskill a million industrial workers.
4] Strengthen the foundations of local economies: provide higher quality advice for SMEs delivering local, everyday services; put refocused Further Education at the heart of a refreshed skills agenda; introduce universal standards to ensure adequate local services, particularly in marginalised communities.
5] Accelerate devolution: devolve decisions about regional economies to all regions, not just those with government-sanctioned deals; introduce Parliamentary Committees and Cabinet positions which recognise and respond to the Powerhouses of the North, Midlands, South West and South East.
6] A plan for England: introduce a spatial plan for England setting out explicit, funded priorities for coordinated, connected development which supports the UK’s global role whilst addressing regional inequalities.
7] Level the playing field for funding: on top of a £250bn UK Renewal Fund outlined in the Commission’s first report, introduce a regional investment bank network; change Treasury investment rules so that they accommodate regional variations and help rebalance the economy according to the long-term vision.

To read our Second Report in full, please click here.

UK2070 Commission Second Report, Background Report – The UK’s 2070 Transport Infrastructure Requirement

This report, prepared for the UK2070 Commission by Greengauge21 uses both existing and new research to analyse the contribution that better sustainable transport connectivity could make to re-balancing the UK economy by addressing its inequalities.

The vision for 2070 concentrates on scheduled public transport, reflecting ambitions to establish transport as a basic right, for everybody, including for those without access to a car. Given the report’s focus on the of the UK positioning, it is concentrated on rail links – together with interurban bus services –treating public transport as a single system in a manner that it perhaps has never been treated before. The report identifies the importance of metropolitan city public transport network development and extends this thinking to smaller cities and towns. The report builds on published plans of the various sub-national bodies in England including those of Transport for the North and Midlands Connect and published longer term plans in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The vision of a sustainable pan-national transport network in this report is based on: what exists now – and established plans where these exist; what’s evidently missing – such as network linkage gaps or places left poorly connected; and lastly has a primary focus on areas that are disadvantaged by at least one key inequality indicators The report provides an alternative to the likely outcome of the current approach, which is based on transport appraisal techniques that acknowledge distributional impacts only in a very minor key and consider investments on an uncoordinated project by project basis.

To read this Background Report, please click here.

UK2070 Commission Second Report, Background Report – Sharing The Uplift in Land Values

This report, published alongside The Second Report of the UK2070 Commission as a Background Report, is written by the Executive Director of the URBED Trust, Dr. Nicholas Falk, in partnership with the Town and Country Planning Association. The report, entitled Sharing the uplift in land values: A fairer system for funding growth and delivering housing growth, considers how we can use land reform to achieve a fairer society while also promoting local economic growth and a better environment.

The paper builds on a previous Think Piece written by Dr. Falk for the UK2070 Commission to consider the wider issues of land value taxation and the funding of the local infrastructure needed to double the rate of housebuilding in the United Kingdom. In turn, the report considers why towns and cities need to mobilise under-used land to make people better connected; to consider the relationship between land value and housing affordability and hence inclusive growth; to consider how local infrastructure can be funded to in turn provide new homes and lastly to consider how to develop strategic spatial plans in a manner that uses scarce resources better while also building the homes the UK needs.

To read this Background Report, please click here.

Professor Thomas B. Fischer publishes Think Piece analysing Germany’s post-unification transition.

After our recent UK2070 Symposium at Leeds Civic Hall, we now return to our series of Think Pieces submitted to the Commission as part of our Call For Evidence, and which the Commission has received permission of the author(s) to publish to a wider audience on our website.

Today’s piece is written by Thomas B. Fischer – Professor for Environmental Assessment at the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Liverpool; Extraordinary Professor at the Research Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North West University, South Africa and an honorary staff member at The Technical University of Berlin. Professor Fischer uses his piece to study the investment in infrastructure undertaken by Germany post-unification and its effectiveness in regenerating the former German Democratic Republic, East Germany; before concluding by making comparisons with the UK’s 2011 National Infrastructure Plan.

Read Professor Fischer’s Report in full here.

Executive Summary: The First Report of the UK2070 Commission: Fairer and Stronger – Rebalancing the UK Economy

Ahead of our National Symposium on Thursday 13th June 2019 at Leeds Civic Hall, the UK2070 has published The First Report of the UK2070 Commission: Fairer and Stronger – Rebalancing the UK Economy.

Our First Report states that the regional inequalities which blight economic performance and life-chances in the UK may become significantly worse unless drastic action is taken.

Whilst London and the South East of England confront increasing pressures on living costs and resources as they soak up most of the UK’s job growth and productivity, our report argues that many people and businesses outside of these areas are likely to miss out on the benefits of growth.

Our report estimates that more than half of the new jobs will go to London and the South East, when it makes up just over a third of the population.

If you like to register your attendance at our National Symposium, then please email your contact details to

To read the Executive Summary, please click here.

The First Report of the UK2070 Commission: Fairer and Stronger – Rebalancing the UK Economy

Ahead of our National Symposium on Thursday 13th June 2019 at Leeds Civic Hall, the UK2070 has published The First Report of the UK2070 Commission: Fairer and Stronger – Rebalancing the UK Economy.

To tackle regional inequality, the UK2070 Commission proposes:

  • Much greater devolution of powers and funding, including the creation of four new ‘super regional’ economic development agencies.
  • A spatial plan to guide the future development of the whole of the UK.
  • Action to harness new technologies and strengthen local economies.
  • Long-term investment through a new National Renewal Fund which would rebalance the economy over a 25-year period.

If you like to register your attendance at our National Symposium, then please email your contact details to

To read our First Report in full, please click here.

UK2070 Commission First Report, Background Report – Industrial Strategy & Industry 4.0: Structure, People and Place

Persistent social and economic inequalities across the United Kingdom need to be challenged. This need is heightened by the political and economic uncertainties brought about by Brexit and the global challenges of technological and climate change. This report by the Manchester Urban Institute, University of Manchester, highlights the importance of facing up to the radical changes in the shape of the economy. This report states that the current industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) is driven by the adoption of smart digital and cyber technologies. This requires a national spatial economic strategy if we are to harness the power of economic change to the benefit of all communities.

This report was submitted as a response to the UK2070 Commission’s Call for Evidence. It has informed the considerations of the UK2070 Commission, especially in the drafting of its First Report, and has subsequently been published as a Policy Report by the Manchester Urban Institute.

To read this Background Report in full, please click here.

UK2070 Commission First Report, Background Report – UK2070 Futures Technical Modelling

The purpose of the UK2070 Futures Study is to investigate distinct scenarios regarding three basic policy variables of spatial rebalancing and development, which are growth and change in jobs, supply and demand of housing and provision of transport infrastructure and services. The distinct scenarios are designed to explore a wide range of potential economic and demographic development trajectories that are cogent for policy purposes, so as to provide a context in which to examine the effectiveness of existing and potential options for intervention in a long-term policy programme.

This report is intended to support the UK2070 Commission in its deliberations on the options of policy interventions and prioritisation against a broad, strategic understanding of the major opportunities and challenges facing the UK.

To read this Background Report in full, please click here.

Dr. Graeme Purves publishes Think Piece on Scotland’s National Planning Framework

In his capacity as a UK2070 Commissioner, Dr. Graeme Purves has today published a new Think Piece for the UK2070 website that reflects on his time as Assistant Chief Planner with the Scottish Government, where he led the teams which prepared Scotland’s First and Second National Planning Frameworks, and where he also played an active role in engagement with the Celtic and Baltic countries.

Dr Purves’ article gives a brief history of planning in Scotland, particularly focusing on the successes and failures of Scotland’s First and Second National Planning Framework (NPF), and how these influenced the creation of the Third (and extant) NPF in 2014. After reflecting on these influences and the approach taken, Dr. Purves then considers the public consultation and parliamentary engagement that was offered to the NPF; before using his expertise to offer a review on the Scottish Planning System at present.

To read Dr. Purves’ report in full, please click here.

Futures Network West Midlands publishes Think Piece

The UK2070 Commission has today published a working note co-authored by the Secretary and Chair of Futures Network West Midlands, Dave Thew and Sandy Taylor entitled Strategic Spatial Development in the West Midlands—a Long View Perspective. This interesting paper is based on the co-author’s 40 years of experience in strategic land use planning in the English West Midlands, with a primary focus on the policy-making process, and a stated aim of “drawing lessons that might be useful in developing a National Spatial Policy Framework as a mechanism to help address current economic imbalances across the UK”.

The piece firstly details the history of planning policy in the West Midlands, before outlining the current situation in the conurbation of England’s second city. Amongst other arguments, Thew and Taylor welcome the return of strategic thinking with the recent establishment of the Midlands Connect Innitative and the Midlands Engine, but they also offer their improvements for how this could be better implemented with the recent creation of the West Midlands Combined Authority. Although primarily focused on the West Midlands, the co-authors also offer their thoughts on some of the Commission’s other objectives outlined in our Prospectus.

To read Futures Network West Midland’s report in full, please click here.

Mike Shields CBE writes Think Piece on the effectiveness of RDAs

In its continuing series of publishing new Think Pieces on a weekly basis, the UK2070 Commission is today publishing a new article written by Mike Shields CBE, which assesses the success of the former Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). Although now serving as a Visiting Fellow at the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place at Liverpool University, Mr Shields was formerly the founding Chief Executive (CEO) of the Northwest Development Agency as well having previously worked as both the CEO at Trafford Park Urban Development Corporation and Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council; Deputy CEO at Salford City Council; Deputy Director of Planning for Leeds; and Assistant City Planning Officer for Nottingham.

Mr Shields uses his vast professional and personal experience to comment on both the establishment, and then the later abolition, of the Regional Development Authorities, and to consider what their legacy was, and how it remains to this day. He also writes chapters on how RDAs built effective relationships with central and local government; the role of RDAs and their unfulfilled potential; the strengths of RDAs as an institutional model, and their weaknesses, errors and failures.

Read Mr Shield’s report in full here.

Former Royal Town Planning Institute Chief Executive publishes Think Piece on the UK’s international commitments with the UN to reduce domestic spatial inequalities

Professor Trudi Elliott CBE of The Henley Business School at The University of Reading, has today published a new Think Piece for the UK2070 website in her capacity as a UK2070 Commissioner entitled UK 2070, Agenda 2030, the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals – what do our international commitments mean for reducing spatial inequalities in the UK? 

With the UK2070 Commission currently considering the deep-rooted inequalities of the United Kingdom and exploring through a national enquiry both the nature of these problems and the actions needed to address them, Professor Elliot has written a paper which explores how international agreements which the UK has committed to might inform this thinking. The Think Piece also explores how the commission’s work can support the UK to deliver on these international commitments and to measure progress.

Read Professor Elliot’s report in full here.

Submission received by the UK2070 Commission from The Foundational Economy Collective

Academics from the Alliance Manchester Business School at the University of Manchester and the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary University of London – together representing The Foundational Economy Collective – have submitted their recent report ‘Foundational Liveability: rethinking territorial inequalities’ to the UK2070 Commission as part of its ongoing Call For Evidence.

The paper proposes “an an alternative concept of foundational liveability for household units…by considering gross, disposable and residual income obtained by subtracting housing and transport costs from the disposable income of owner occupier households” with a particular focus on Wales, after the Welsh Government’s 2018 Economic Action Plan ‘Prosperity for All‘ proposed developing innovative policy for the foundational economy.

Read The Foundational Economy Collective’s report in full here.

Collaborative Think Piece by UCL and Newcastle Universities on ‘left-behind-places’

Academics from the Bartlett School of Planning and the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies have today published a ‘provocation’ on the UK2070 Commission’s website entitled Land use planning, inequality and the problem of ‘left-behind-places’.

In this sixth article to be published in our weekly series of Think Pieces, the three authors seek to offer a critical account of recent efforts to regenerate deindustrialised regions, whilst also detailing new policy prescriptions for ‘left-behind’ regions.

Read more about the ‘left-behind-places’ provocation here.

Co-winner of the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize, Dr. Nicholas Falk, writes land values Think Piece for UK2070

The Executive Director of the URBED Trust, Dr. Nicholas Falk, has written the fifth Think Piece to be published on the UK2070 Commission website, entitled Making Fairer Places: A Think Piece on Land Values.

Dr. Falk’s report considers tackling spatial inequalities in the UK by discussing best practice in other countries internationally, and also how the issue has been addressed domestically in the past. Dr. Falk’s report also seeks to discuss why he believes harnessing land values is crucial to creating a more effective, equitable and efficient country, whilst also rebalancing our cities.

Read more about Dr. Falk’s Think Piece here.

The Heseltine Institute produce Think Piece on National Spatial Strategies – with foreword by UK2070 Chair, Lord Kerslake

Our series of every Tuesday publishing a Think Piece submitted to the UK2070 Commission continues today with a recently published report by The University of Liverpool’s Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place entitled ‘National’ Spatial Strategies in an Age of Inequality: Insights from the United Kingdom, Ireland & France. With a foreword by the Chair of the UK2070 Commission, Lord Kerslake and chapters written by ten academics this extensive paper covers a wide range of topics.

Read our full news story about The Heseltine Institute’s Think Piece here.

Dr. David Nguyen publishes Think Piece about the UK’s regional disparities and development

Our weekly series of Think Pieces submitted to the UK2070 Commission has now reached its third instalment, with this week’s entry written by Dr. David Nguyen of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Entitled Regional disparities and development in the UK the piece uses data to show how the UK’s regional disparities have varied over time from the 1960s to the present day; before seeking to model the ‘under-performance’ of regions in order to establish what a ‘spatially rebalanced’ region may look like.

Read our full news story about Dr. Nguyen’s Think Piece here.

The Spatial Policy and Analysis Laboratory at The Manchester Urban Institute publish Think Piece on spatial inequality in the UK

In the second of our now weekly series, the UK2070 Commission has published a Think Piece submitted to our Call For Evidence, this week written by The Spatial Policy and Analysis Laboratory at The Manchester Urban Institute entitled ‘Measuring Spatial Inequality in the UK: What We Know and What We Should Know?’

Written by academics from The University of Manchester, the report compares numerous methods to measure spatial inequality and offers a critique of these; considers how the United Kingdom fares on each scale; asks if the UK’s infrastructure investment reinforces spatial inequality; and asks if there is a need to adopt greater use of mapping analysis to demonstrate spatial inequality.

Read our full news story about SPAL’s Think Piece here.

Professor Philip McCann publishes Think Piece on Perceptions of Regional Inequality

In the first of a weekly series of posts, the UK2070 Commission are today publishing the first in a series of Think Pieces submitted to the Commission as part of its recent Call For Evidence, and which the Commission has received permission of the author(s) to publish to a wider audience on our website.

The first of these think pieces is written by Professor Philip McCann, Chair of Urban and Regional Economics at the University of Sheffield Management School, and is entitled Perceptions of Regional Inequality and the Geography of Discontent: Insights from the UK. The paper examines whether the United Kingdom displays high or average levels of interregional inequality, by comparing the UK to 30 other OECD countries across 28 different indicators, and concludes that the UK is one of most regionally unbalanced countries in the industrialised world.

Read our full news story about Professor McCann’s think piece here.

Call For Evidence

The work of the UK2070 Commission is being informed by the communications we received through our Call for Evidence which closed on the 16 November 2018. Policymakers, politicians, and the general public were asked to submit evidence or opinions on the future of city and regional development in the UK – evidence was sought on the nature, causes and solutions to the embedded spatial inequalities across the UK. If you have missed the Call For Evidence deadline, but still would like to get in touch, contributing can be done in a variety of ways, as indicated below:

Responses may be emailed to:

Hard copies can be sent to:
The UK2070 Commisson,
c/o Department of Urban Studies and Planning,
University of Sheffield,
S10 2TN

Full Prospectus

We have published two prospectuses, of which this is the full 12 page version, however a summary prospectus of 4 pages is also available below.

The full prospectus details: the goals of the Commission; the context of the Commission; the activities of the Commission; our programme timetable and outputs; the commitments of our partners and the membership both of the Commission and of the Commission’s Steering Group.

Summary Prospectus

As detailed above, this is a 4 page summary of our full prospectus. It also outlines the partnership of organisations which have come together to form the UK2070 Commission; the background context of the Commission; our activities and a brief biography of each of the Commissioners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you be struggling to find the information you require about the Commission elsewhere, this document answers a number of Frequently Asked Questions about UK2070.


If you would like to contact us about our work, please email:, or get in touch through Twitter @UK_2070.