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UK2070 Final Report To Be Published

By | News

We are pleased to report that the Final Report of the UK2070 Commission: Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future will be published on Thursday 27 February 2020 at MediaCityUK, Salford.

More details will follow here in due course.

Second Report of the UK2070 Commission published

By | News

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 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. It identifies 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.


Click here to read the Executive Summary

Lord Kerslake warned: “Time is not on our side. Successive governments have spent the last 50 years trying to rebalance the UK economy and create a fairer and stronger nation. Those efforts have failed and the hard evidence uncovered by our inquiry shows that we remain one of the most unequal and divided nations in Europe. If we continue our current approach those divisions will worsen, potentially to a serious degree. We need to adopt a strategy that allows London to sustain its global role whilst at the same time targeting some systematic firepower at raising the economic performance of regional Britain. The research and consultation carried out by the UK2070 Commission across the country has identified both where we can make progress and the actions needed to deliver it. It will not be sufficient to tinker with existing policies or make incremental changes to budgets – the system itself is consistently failing to deliver effective solutions.”


Click the image above to read the Full Report

In our Second Report, entitled ‘Moving Up The Gears’, the UK2070 Commission has 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.

Lord Kerslake said: “Our initial report highlighted the stop-start nature of regional policies, the inadequate resources underpinning them, and an over-centralised governance that fails to comprehend regional need and has an inherent bias towards only funding areas which are already successful. Regardless of the impact of Brexit, we have gone way beyond the point where simple policy change is the appropriate response. We need a new model for delivering regional policy, one armed with the right resources and the right tools and working towards a long-term goal. One of the most striking aspects of the way the UK is governed is that while it has policies aplenty, there is no clear, guiding vision for the future of the nation in the decades to come. We are also taking too many operational decisions centrally and in doing so failing to respond to the fine-grain of local need. The question is not how we pay for all this, but whether we’re willing to accept the continuing cost of not doing so – a cost which will be measured not only in the persistent economic under-performance of the UK but in damaged lives and deprived communities.”

Lord Kerslake said that whilst London’s global success was a contrast to other parts of the UK, it was critical that the capital’s performance was made more sustainable.
“The correct response is not North versus South, but a coordinated strategy which ensures London does not overheat and that our regional economies grow and gather momentum. This can be a united vision for the future, but we start by recognising that there is significant ground to make up in the English regions, even those with vibrant cities. The Power up the North campaign which followed the publication of our First Report is a reflection of great ambition and untapped potential. But there are parts of regional Britain where the lives people lead and the fabric of the world around them is disturbingly deprived. No government with a meaningful vision for the UK’s future can afford for that to continue. The Power Up the North campaign pointed to a real appetite for progress and the need for a more effective way of unlocking that potential. Too many decisions about the regions are being taken in Whitehall when more progress would be made by regionally-owned solutions.”

Lord Kerslake concluded: “The UK’s inequalities have persisted for too long and government must start moving up the gears – first, by acknowledging that these inequalities are not a policy challenge but a strategic threat; second, by accepting that they are too complex and localised to be solved in Whitehall alone. Finally, this has to be a long-term commitment which acts as a commonly agreed guiding light. This amounts to a leadership test for whoever is in government in the decades to come. It will define the Britain of the future.”

The UK2070 National Symposium – Facing up to Inequalities across the UK

By | Events

The UK2070 National Symposium, held at Leeds Civic Hall on 13 June 2019, heard speakers from all parts of the United Kingdom call for fundamental changes to address long-standing and deep-rooted inequalities throughout the country.

The Symposium provided an opportunity for the UK2070 Commission to present and test the findings in the First Report of the UK2070 Commission. This included the Report’s Agenda for Action based around the need to:

  • Deliver effective devolution and decentralisation;
  • Restructure the economy;
  • Enable long term spatial planning;
  • Provide stable long-term funding for action.

We will be holding another symposium later in the year – more information will be added to the Events Page soon.

To view the day’s full programme itinerary please click here, or alternatively click on the hyperlink on a speaker’s name to view the presentation they gave to the Symposium (a transcript of the accompanying speech is also embedded in the PDF where possible).

Speakers included:

Councillor Judith Blake CBE (Chair of the Core Cities UK Network), whose leadership of Leeds City Council demonstrated the potential for local action where there is vision and resources.
The Right Honourable The Lord Kerslake (Chair of the UK2070 Commission), who set out the challenges in the UK2070 First Report under the theme of Bringing the Nations Together.
The Right Honourable Andy Burnham (The Mayor of Greater Manchester), who called for a Powering up of the North as key to answering the question “Devolution – What Next?
Professor Philip McCann (Chair of Urban and Regional Economics at the University of Sheffield Management School and Tagliaferri Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge), who set out unequivocal evidence on the scale and nature of the problems of inequality, drawing upon new international comparisons from OECD research.
Boe Pahari (Global Head of Infrastructure Equity & Director North West Region at AMP Capital), who drew upon his experience globally of investing long-term in infrastructure, demonstrating the need for a more strategic and visionary approach based on the theme of ‘From Imagination to Infrastructure’.
Mayor James Palmer (The Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough), who highlighted the challenges created for areas of growth and the need for innovative approaches to housing policy; especially in the delivery of affordable housing.
Dr. George W. McCarthy (President and CEO of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy), who demonstrated through international examples, ranging from the USA to Taiwan, of countries being transformed by long term vision and commitment to change.
The Right Honourable The Lord Heseltine CH (Former Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State) who set out the institutional challenges of delivering change within the culture of inertia that presently pervades the British political establishment.

The Full Programme included contributions from:

Professor Gillian Bristow (Professor in Economic Geography and Dean of Research for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Cardiff University)
Deborah Cadman OBE (Chief Executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority)
Emma Degg (Chief Executive of the North West Business Leadership Team)
Professor Duncan Maclennan CBE (Professor of Public Policy at the University of Glasgow)
John Mothersole (Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council)
Peter Nears (Executive Director of Strategic Planning at The Peel Group)

Young Professionals Panel, chaired by Dr. Lucy Natarajan (University College London)

The Symposium was also addressed from the following leading young professionals on a range of perspectives about future challenges:
Tom Arnold (PhD Researcher at The University of Manchester, researching transport planning and devolution in the North of England)
Philip Brown (UK2070 Commission Research Associate for The University of Sheffield)
Dr. Stefania Fiorentino (PhD in Planning and Economic Geography from the Bartlett School of Planning; Senior Consultant in Economic Development and Planning at AECOM)
Kathryn Irish (Digital Waste and Recycling Advisor at Leeds City Council)
Jane Healey Brown (Head of Town Planning at Arup North West & Yorkshire; Greater Manchester Commissioner for Planning and Housing)

First Report of the UK2070 Commission published

By | News

The UK2070 Commission is proud to today publish The First Report of the UK2070 Commission: Fairer and Stronger – Rebalancing the UK Economy ahead of our National Symposium by the same name on Thursday 13th June 2019 at Leeds Civic Hall.


Click here to read the Executive Summary

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.

Click the image above to read the Full Report 

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.

Thank you to everyone who showed an interest in attending the UK2070 National Symposium in Leeds – unfortunately both the main attendee list and the reserve list were SOLD OUT. To read a summary of the event, including copies of speaker’s presentations, please click here.
We will be holding another symposium later in the year – more information will be added to the Events Page soon.

UK2070 Commission National Symposium, Thursday 13th June

By | News

Thank you to everyone who showed an interest in attending the UK2070 National Symposium in Leeds – unfortunately both the main attendee list and the reserve list SOLD OUT.
To read a summary of this event, including copies of speaker’s presentations, please click here.
We will be holding another symposium later in the year – more information will be added to the Events Page soon.

The UK2070 Commission are pleased to today announce further details for our National Symposium, to be held from 10am-4pm on Thursday 13th June 2019 at Leeds Civic Hall thanks to our partners and hosts, Leeds City Council. The event will act as a National Forum to both share the work of the Commission to date, and also to obtain the views of interested stakeholders about our First Report, which is presently being drafted and will be published later this spring prior to this event.

The UK2070 Commission is particularly looking forward to hearing the thoughts of policymakers, politicians, business leaders and civil society about our work to date; and will use comments received in Leeds to both inform our work and to refine the First Report prior to publication of the Final Report. The event will also see a number of high profile speakers in attendance debating the themes of the report and facilitating further comment from the floor. These include:

  • Former Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State, The Right Honourable The Lord Heseltine CH;
  • The Mayor of Greater Manchester, The Right Honourable Andy Burnham;
  • Chair of the Core Cities Group, Councillor Judith Blake CBE;
  • Chair of Urban and Regional Economics at the University of Sheffield Management School and Tagliaferri Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, Professor Philip McCann;
  • Global Head of Infrastructure Equity & Director North West Region at AMP Capital, Boe Pahari;
  • Professor in Economic Geography and Dean of Research for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Cardiff University, Professor Gillian Bristow;
  • The Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Mayor James Palmer;
  • Professor of Public Policy at the University of Glasgow, Professor Duncan Maclennan CBE;
  • Chief Executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority, Deborah Cadman OBE;
  • Executive Director of Strategic Planning at The Peel Group, Peter Nears;
  • President and CEO of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Dr. George W. McCarthy;
  • Chief Executive of the North West Business Leadership Team, Emma Degg.

We will be holding another symposium later in the year – more information will be added to the Events Page soon.

In the meantime, the Commission would like to remind readers that while the initial Call For Evidence ended on 16th November 2018, due to unprecedented demand and having received in excess of 100 submissions already, our Call for Evidence remains open should you or your organisation not already have contributed – for more information please click the link provided.

Lord Kerslake speech on the progress of the UK2070 Commission to date

By | Speech

Good evening and thank you for inviting me to talk to you about the work of the UK2070 Commission.

The UK2070 Commission is an independent inquiry into the deep – rooted spatial inequalities in the United Kingdom.

Now there has been a debate about these inequalities and how best to tackle them for as long as I have involved in public service.

The uncomfortable reality though is that despite the government initiatives that have been taken, the economic disparities, particularly between London and the South East and the rest of the country have grown.

I doubt that I need to quote too many of the statistics to this audience, but to give just two from the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice that I was a part of:

  • Median incomes in the North West, North East, West Midlands, and the South West are now more than a third below those of London and the South East.
  • In London, the UK has the richest region in Northern Europe, yet we also have six of the ten poorest regions, making the UK the continent’s most geographically unbalanced economy.

If you remain in any doubt on this, our website carries a think piece by Professor Philip McCann on the perceptions of Regional Inequality and the Geography of Discontent. It compares the UK to 30 other OECD countries across 28 different indicators and demonstrates to my satisfaction that the UK is one of the most regionally unbalanced countries in the industrialised world, second only perhaps to Slovakia.

The impact of these acute and growing economic spatial disparities is threefold:
Firstly, it means that we are not taking full advantage of the economic opportunities that those parts of the UK have to offer.
Secondly, it creates an imbalance of wealth and opportunity that in turn creates division.
Thirdly, it creates enormous pressures in terms of population growth, housing affordability and overloaded infrastructure on the economically performing parts of the country.
In short, nobody wins.

There is therefore a compelling case for continuing to explore these disparities and how they might be reduced.

This case is made even stronger by the potential impact of Brexit, which most economic commentators expect to widen our economic divisions, especially if it happens without an agreed deal with the European Union.

Given their longstanding nature and our previous inability to close them, a reasonable question to ask is how this Commission will be different.

I think that it is distinctive in two main ways.

Firstly, it is consciously long game. We want to look back fifty years and forward fifty years – hence the title UK2070. This will allow us to look at past and potential patterns of investment over a long period. A longer view is also vital if we want to provide a proper context for investment in major infrastructure, whether road, rail, ports, airports or ICT.

We will of course look for and identify early wins, and set out an agenda for action. This would include exploring new meta-regional or provincial bodies to promote economic growth.
However, the disparities are longstanding and so it would not be surprising if some of the interventions needed are equally so.

Secondly, in terms of distinctiveness, the Commission will explore the potential of an Economic Spatial Framework to help address these inequalities.

To date, across different governments, there has been an essential reliance on the market to address spatial inequalities, with relatively modest spatial interventions.

This is pretty clearly a reliance that has not delivered. Whilst governments cannot direct where and how the private sector develops, it can shape this development through its decisions and actions.

Such spatial frameworks exist in different forms in most of Europe and for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Indeed Scotland is on its third spatial plan, which it sees as the spatial expression of its economic strategy. However, no such plan has been developed for England.

A national economic spatial strategy that in turns links to provincial and local spatial strategies could provide a much needed context for big investment decisions, and be a powerful enabler for devolved decision making at regional level.

It will not be the role of the Commission to produce such a plan – that is for Government.

However, we will lay the foundations for the current or a future government to act on this.
We have consciously chosen the scope of our Commission to include Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland rather than just England.

This is so that we can build on, learn from their work in developing economic spatial strategies, and ensure that the key links between the different nations are addressed.
The Commission that has been formed is a very strong one, drawing from local government, business, academia and the policy world.

We are fortunate to have support from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Universities of Manchester and Sheffield and University College London, The Sir Hugh and Lady Sykes Charitable Trust and Turner Townsend.

Work is now well underway and the Commission has already held four meetings.
We have published our Prospectus, set up a website and identified a set of Key Questions that we want to address. A Programme of Research has been developed and a Call for Evidence undertaken.
Our timetable is to produce a First Report this spring and we are holding a Symposium in Leeds on the 13th June to discuss it. We will produce a Second Report in September and a Final Report in January 2020.

One of my key ambitions for the Commission is that we challenge the received wisdom and long held assumptions about these inequalities through the use of evidence.
This will help to ensure that future policy is based on a true understanding on the nature and scale of the task.

Our website already has ten very stimulating think pieces, including the one by Professor McCann that I referred to earlier.

We are still in the relatively early stages of thinking through the interventions needed.
However, I am clear in my own mind that much of what we have had to date has been underpowered, peashooter policies, which have not been sustained.

Indeed much of the public investment has worked in the opposite direction. This is not to deny the individual successes of places like Manchester.

However, if we are to really shift the dial on spatial inequalities, what we require for the future will need to be structural, generational, interlocking and at scale.

The interventions involved could be organised around four key themes – investment, devolution, knowledge development, and spatial impact. The ‘how, who, what and where’ if you like. In all this, we can learn a lot from what happened with the unification of West and East Germany.

Let me conclude by saying that I think that the Commission is a brilliant initiative focussed on a vital issue and I feel very fortunate to be chairing it. It will go to the heart of the issue because it will lay out both the scale of the challenge and the scale of the interventions needed to truly tackle it.

It can therefore lay the foundations for the specific projects and initiatives to be delivered over the next two decades.

Please do get involved!

Thank You.

Development Corporation Hosts UK2070 Commission

By | Events

·       UK2070 Commission hosts strategic meeting outside of Greater London
·       Development Corporation outlines opportunities to transform Tees Valley

The UK2070 Commission has visited the South Tees Development Corporation to learn about the UK’s biggest development opportunity, as it seeks to shape national and regional economic policy.

The Commission, which is chaired by Lord Kerslake, chose to take this strategic meeting outside of London, to Tees Valley, to better understand the opportunities and issues across the 4,500-acre site. In partnership with the National Infrastructure Commission, a round-table discussion with senior stakeholders such as PD Ports, focused on the powers of devolution to the regions, north-south inequalities and Freeport opportunities post Brexit.

The 30-strong group was also given a tour of the former SSI site, encompassing Teesport, showcasing the development prospects with an emphasis on its context in relation to transport and utilities infrastructure.

The purpose of the Commission is to explore the nature and depth of regional inequalities in the UK and highlight the imbalances to Government, identifying how policy can be shaped to address this. It aims to reinforce the devolution agenda of regions to maximise their potential for sustainable, inclusive growth and aims to support both regional strategies and Government’s Industrial Strategy.

John McNicholas, Engineering and Programme Director of South Tees Development Corporation, said: “It’s a real coup to have captured the UK2070’s attention and it’s superb that they’ve chosen South Tees to hold such a meeting outside of London.

“We’ve got a long-term plan to transform this site and the region over the next 20 years. It was great to highlight to the Commission the task in hand and show them our international-scale opportunities.”

“They regularly speak to many other influential people and organisations and will be well placed to positively talk up the site and wider Tees Valley.”

The Development Corporation has recently achieved a number of major milestones, including acquiring more than 1,400 acres of readily developable land from Tata Steel Europe; commencing a £1million access road scheme in South Bank; and instigating compulsory purchase proceedings for a further 870 acres of land held by SSI UK in receivership.

During the visit, the Commission also heard how the site has seen a total of £137million of Government funding, and learned that the £14million awarded in the Autumn Budget in 2018 is now being used to remediate land ready for new investors.

Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt said: “Our visit to Teesside has been a valuable opportunity to meet with local leaders and hear about their ambitious plans for redevelopment.

“We look forward to continuing to work with partners in the North East to make the case for stable, long-term infrastructure investment.”

Lord Kerslake, UK2070 Commission Chair, said: “The UK2070 Commission provides an opportunity to look afresh at the large and growing economic disparities in this country. The UK2070 Commission visit will provide an opportunity to look at how this plays out in a particular place. The powerful leadership being shown locally cannot disguise the scale of the challenge. I hope that our report will give some impetus to what you are seeking to achieve”.

COO of PD Ports Jerry Hopkinson said: “We are delighted to welcome the UK2070 Commission to the Tees Valley as it seeks to shape and influence national and regional economic policy. The visit was an opportunity to highlight the significant economic opportunity here in the Tees Valley with ambitious redevelopment plans within the South Tees Development Corporation site. At Teesport we have seen more than£1billion invested, directly by the business and through third-party investors in the last ten years, to support the growth of international trade. The port will undoubtedly be a catalyst in attracting further inward investment to the former steelworks site; supporting the delivery of long-term economic growth across the region.”

Bill McElroy, Head of Industry Strategy – Programme Advisory at Turner & Townsend, said: “I am delighted to be supporting the UK2070 Commission, by chairing the debate in Redcar. This follows a similar session last November in London.”

UCL Research Events for the UK2070 Commission

By | Blogpost

In the first half of 2019, the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL is running a series of new research work, in support of the inquiry into spatial inequalities. Further to the recent think piece on ‘left behind places’, in collaboration with Newcastle University, UCL’s UK2070 project team are running a series of events focusing on economic and strategic thinking, to feed into the work of the Commission.  These exchange events will examine a range of perspectives on some of the key issues behind spatial inequalities, as well as exploring the 50 horizon with a wider range of stakeholders.

The team at the Bartlett School of Planning is led by Prof John Tomaney, who also acts as a Commissioner. He is examining economic models, bringing in the expertise of scholars and practitioners working in the field. Dr Lucy Natarajan is conducting a series of research events with diverse stakeholder groups around the country.  For more information, please get in touch with the Bartlett Team.

Eastbourne Beach Looking North East from the pier (Source: Oast House Archive via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Town Hall and Shambles Market Hall, Stockton on Tees. Picture taken viewing north. (Source: Petegal-half user at Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Report on Economic Performance of British Cities submitted by cityevolutions.org.uk

By | Think Piece

Our weekly series of Think Pieces continues today with a report published by Structural Transformation, Adaptability and City Economic Evolutions and cityevolutions.org.uk entitled The Economic Performance of Britain’s Cities: Patterns, Processes and Policy Implications. Written by seven academics at five universities, the report seeks to analyse the economic evolution of Britain’s cities since 1971 by considering their Travel To Work Areas (TTWAs) to construct an annual data series on employment, output, labour productivity, skills and wages for 85 cities in the United Kingdom. This unique dataset was then used to consider how cities have differed in their growth patterns since 1971; how they have adapted to the major shifts in the structure of the UK’s national economy; what impact four major recessions have had on British cities; and lastly to establish the extent to which the UK’s ‘productivity problem’ is itself a problem with a city dimension.

To read City Evolutions’ report in full, please click here.


Professor Ron Martin is Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Cambridge; Research Associate of the Centre for Business Research at the Judge Business School; and is a Professorial Fellowship at St Catharine’s College.

Professor David Bailey, is an expert on economic restructuring and industrial policy, but is perhaps best known for his knowledge of the British and West Midlands car manufacturing. He sits as Professor of Industrial Strategy at Aston Business School.

Dr. Emil Evenhuis is Research Fellow in Economic Geography at The University of Southampton. His research is focused on how cities and regions cope with economic change, and in particular on the role of institutions and policies in facilitating this.

Ben Gardiner is director of the Regions, Cities and Local Areas team at Cambridge Econometrics, having previously worked for the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre Directorate-General.

Professor Andy Pike is the Sir Henry Daysh Chair of Regional Development Studies at Newcastle University. His central research interest is the geographical political economy of local, regional and urban development, governance and policy.

Professor Peter Sunley is Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Southampton. His research is focused on regional development and growth; venture capital and firm finance; the innovation and creative industries and the geographies of labour and welfare policy.

Professor Peter Tyler sits as Professor of Urban and Regional Economics at the University of Cambridge and President and Fellow of St. Catharine’s College. He has served as a Project Director for over seventy major research projects for the UK Government.