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UK2070 Commission

Press Statement

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Baroness Judith Blake CBE will take on the role as chair UK2070 Commission following the death of Lord Kerslake.

Baroness Blake is currently a Life Peer in the House of Lords and the UK2070 Commission deputy chair – appointment with immediate effect.

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Chair UK2070 Commission

UK2070 commission express our deepest sorrow to the passing of UK2070 Chair Lord Bob Kerslake. 

Bob will remain in our hearts and memory forever. Our deepest condolences to the family and friends. 

Levelling-up Economies

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Philip McCann at the University of Manchester, who is also a UK2070 Commissioner, has recently produced the report ‘Levelling-up Economics’. 

The UK interregional productivity inequalities are nowadays widely recognised as posing some of the greatest challenges to our economy, society, and governance systems. However, attention to, and concern about, these regional development issues is a very recent phenomenon in the UK. The nature and consequences of the UK’s economic geography for its national economic performance were barely considered in mainstream economic thinking until very recently, reflecting the fact that as a polity, the UK and its institutions have, until just a few years ago, largely failed to consider the UK as having a serious regional problem. Even now, most economic policymakers and institutions at the very highest levels are belatedly struggling to comprehend the scale and complexities of the challenges ahead. Moreover, the role that UK-specific governance and institutional issues may have played in exacerbating the regional problem have also been largely outside of the narratives and debates in mainstream UK economics. Prior to the EU Referendum shocks of 2016, very few economists understood the scale of the problem (McCann, 2016), and it is only the political shocks associated with Brexit that have placed these issues centre-stage in UK policy and political debates. Unfortunately, in the meanwhile, this has allowed non-economic narratives, sometimes with little or no real substance, to flourish and drive the political economy of levelling up and devolution. For the sake of future good policy and institutions, UK economics must seriously engage with the regional question.

Philip McCann
The University of Manchester

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The UK2070 Commission expresses its deep sadness at the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She dedicated her long life to public service and will be mourned by many people across the UK and around the world. Our condolences and thoughts are with the Royal Family.

The UK2070 Papers – Series 6

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The Crook Public Service Fellowships at the University of Sheffield was established by Emeritus Professor ADH Crook. It provides opportunities for future leaders in public and not-for-profit sectors to immerse themselves in a collaborative project on a pressing policy issue or challenge – taking short periods away from their day job.

Each year, the Crook Public Service Fellowships focus on a particular theme that aligns with the strategic priorities and academic strengths of the University.

The recent Crook Fellowship Programme (University of Sheffield) centred around four key themes of the UK2070 Agenda for Action:

• Greater devolution of powers and funding including creating four new super-regional economic development agencies.

• Action to harness new technologies and strengthen local economies.

• A spatial plan to guide the future development of the whole of the UK.

• Long-term investment through a new National Renewal Fund to rebalance the economy over a 25-year period.

The Fellowship has given permission to publish two of the papers as part of Series 6 of the UK2070 papers.

Paper 6.1 by Daniel Timms and Aiden While, from Metro Dynamics, focuses on using a range of data sources to understand economic vulnerability. This will help policymakers to build resilience in places to economic shocks, and inform the investment that is needed to underpin this, linked with UK2070 Commission proposals for a National Renewal Fund.

Paper 6.2 by Zoë Billingham, Head of Policy and Engagement at the Centre for Progressive Policy, addresses the theme of greater devolution of powers and funding in the UK and will entail an analysis of its impacts on inequality. Addressing a key gap in evidence around the impacts of Mayoral combined authorities, she will seek to make concrete proposals as to what powers, accountabilities or funding should be devolved next. 

UK2070 Commissions Welcomes Publication Levelling Up White Paper

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Press Release : 02.02.2022

UK2070 Commission welcomes the publication of the Government’s plan for levelling up across the whole of the UK.

Lord Kerslake, chair, UK2070 Commission said:

“We welcome the Governments publication of Levelling Up White Paper today. The inequalities in economic performance and social conditions across the UK identified by the UK2070 Commission are now accepted by all parties. The momentum for change must however be built up and accelerated from these initial steps since there is no quick fix to the UK’s spatial disparities, which have continued to widen in recent years.

There needs to be a strong focus on meaningful devolution, giving local authorities and mayors across the country a greater say over the way their regions function,  and providing local solutions to the problems to levelling up. Whitehall deciding on the criteria and who receives funding just won’t work – hopefully today we begin to embrace that change.”

“Much more investment will be needed than is currently envisaged by the Government. This will need to be sustained over a long period of time. Without this, the ambitions of the White Paper are unlikely to be realised. Rebalancing the UK will bring enormous economic and social benefits that will more than justify the higher investment”.

The scale of analysis and the width issues addressed, ranging from creating global centres of excellence and closing the skills-gap, demonstrate the seriousness of the government’s intent. This is marked contrast from the fragmented deal-based policy approach which has frustrated past efforts to deliver change.

It is therefore hoped that this Levelling Up will allow a sustained approach across government election cycles.

The new delivery vehicles should help make government fit for purpose. The proposed strengthening of national leadership as well as further devolution is a recognition of the need to empower of local communities to take strategic action on infrastructure, skills and health. The proposed metrics should also allow action to be better planned, success can be measured and government held to account.

Therefore, the UK2070 Commission will be seeking to engage with the government and work with it to promote, develop and maintain the focus on transforming the social conditions and economic performance of the UK. We will be producing a detailed analysis and critique of the White paper drawing on the expertise in the Commission.

For further information Please visit

Social media @uk_2070



UK2070 New Year Message from the Chair, Lord Kerslake

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This time last year we were hoping that by now we would have seen the worst of the pandemic. However, a year on we are still coping with the fear of another wave of illness, prolonged social restrictions and great economic uncertainty.

The UK2070 Commission’s assessment on the impact of pandemic highlights three major concerns.

Firstly, the pandemic has laid bare the deep social inequalities in the UK that were described in our report ‘Make No Little Plans’. This has been so clearly demonstrated by the growth in foodbanks and the public debate about the loss of £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit that went to the poorest in our society.

Secondly, these inequalities have been deepened. This is not only reflected in take home pay [i] but also wealth. Whilst total UK wealth had increased during the course of the pandemic, the poorest households were more likely to have run down rather than increase their savings and not share in the house price boom.[ii]

And thirdly, the need for action has been made more urgent. Action is needed now to rebalance the economy. The Prime Minister had recognised this in his speech six months ago setting out his commitment to levelling up, but we still await the White Paper he promised.

We are looking to this to unleash action at scale that will unlock the economic potential not only of our great cities, like Liverpool and Bristol but also places such as Blackpool and Weston-Super-Mare. This needs to be at a scale to rebuild the social infrastructure of the UK to level up social conditions in terms of health, education and culture. This also needs to be aligned with comparable effort in Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast – that is across the whole of the UK.

The promised White Paper is therefore now urgently required and it must be more than a repackaging of old policies, a re-presenting of existing budget commitments or a reinforcing of Whitehall powers. It must enable fresh thinking and ideas, enhance resources for action and empower local leaders.

The work of the UK2070 Commission is now even more important. The rebalancing the UK socially and economically must be a national goal. The problems are now recognised and as the Prime Minister has stated these social inequalities are a national ‘disgrace’.[iii] Action must be taken now to transform rhetoric into action through a long term, forward – looking agenda to shape the future of the UK.

Responsibility lies not just with the government for action. It also lies with local leaders, arms length bodies, NGOs and communities. Government, local leaders and all parties need to sign up to a Shared Declaration of Intent for building a fairer, stronger and more sustainable future for all in the UK and to start now with urgency to implement the programme of action.

[i] Wages in the North were lower than the rest of England before the pandemic and these fell further during the COVID-19 pandemic (from £543.90 to £541.30 per week) whereas wages increased in the rest of the country (from £600.80 to £604.00 per week).


[iii] it is an outrage that a man in Glasgow or Blackpool has an average of ten years less on this planet than someone growing up in Hart in Hampshire or in Rutland Source July 2021 speech

UK2070 Teesside Taskforce ‘Report of Findings’ and ‘Background Technical Report

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Further helping realise the future potential of the Tees Valley

The UK2070 Commission today publishes the Teesside Taskforce Paper of  ‘Report of Findings’ and ‘Background Technical Report’

The Teesside Taskforce was established by the UK2070 Commission to work with the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority to support the long-standing aspirations for a major increase in the number and quality of job opportunities in Tees Valley, alongside enhancing the wellbeing of people who live in Teesside. its Report on Findings, published today, sets out immediate opportunities for reinforcing current initiatives.

This sets out a framework for Tees Valley to Go Big in delivering Green Growth, across the Tees Valley strengthening the national role of Tees Valley and building on the local distinctiveness and growing interdependencies of Teesside’s main towns.

The report sets out how these ambitions could be accelerated by the immediate implementation of programmes to tackle Green Fuel Poverty, level up access to job opportunities, transform the living conditions of the most disadvantaged communities and create a Global Centre of Excellence around the university and new industries.

The report demonstrates that the opportunities in Teesside are considerable but so also are the challenges.


Lord Kerslake, Chair of the UK2070 Commission, said:

“Delighted to publish UK2070 Teesside Taskforce ‘Report of Findings’ and ‘Background Technical Report’.

I was pleased to chair a formal Teesside Taskforce session earlier this year, with Teesside University hosting the UK2070 Commission. This is the culmination of extensive consultation across the whole of Teesside. Evidence was provided by Mayor Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Combined Authority, Teesside University, Industry partners and international submissions from South Africa.

I wanted to thank everyone, especially Mayor Houchen, the Combined Authority and Teesside University, for their support of this Teesside Taskforce publication.”


Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said:

“We have an unprecedented opportunity right now to transform Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, level up our communities, drive growth and create good-quality, well-paid jobs for local people generations to come.

I welcome UK2070 Commission Teesside Taskforce report and thank Lord Kerslake for his visits to the region and the work he and others have put into this report. It’s a welcome endorsement of the huge strides we are making and the big opportunities I’m highlighting, and points to some of the biggest opportunities for future jobs, investment, and growth in the region.

For example, I welcome its argument that Teesside is the best place for the UK’s first hydrogen village. This kind of ambitious thinking will deliver a brighter future for local people as we spearhead the UK’s green industrial revolution.”


Teesside University Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Paul Croney said:

“As an anchor institution with a civic mission, Teesside University takes an uncompromising approach to levelling-up opportunity. This can only be achieved with cooperation and collaboration; the time is now to work together and deliver real change.

Universities are engines of innovation and impact. I am delighted to see this evidenced within the Commission’s findings and wholeheartedly support the recommendation to establish a Centre of Excellence in the Tees Valley.  From supporting the growth of the economy, to delivering the transition to net zero, Teesside University will continue to contribute the knowledge, skills and insight to develop solutions that shape the future, today.”