All Posts By


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

By | Think Piece

In the second of the UK2070 Commission’s weekly series of Think Pieces, The Spatial Policy and Analysis Laboratory at The Manchester Urban Institute have today published a new paper entitled ‘Measuring Spatial Inequality in the UK: What We Know and What We Should Know?’

Written by a team of academics from The University of Manchester, the piece compares methods to measure spatial inequality, including the Gini coefficient and the related Luxembourg Income Study; the United Nations’ Human Development and City Prosperity Indexes; and the Inclusive Growth Monitor approach, created by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the University of Manchester. The paper offers a critique of these measures of spatial inequality, and assesses how the United Kingdom fares on each scale.

The paper then looks at the spatial nature of the UK’s infrastructure investment and consider if this reinforces spatial inequality in favour of Greater London over the rest of the country. The report also considers if investment in infrastructure should be taken with a greater focus on the needs of society as a whole, rather than on an individual or population basis.

Lastly, the report investigates if there is a need to adopt greater use of mapping analysis to better demonstrate the distribution of capacities and resources.

Read the report in full by clicking here:

Cecilia Wong is Professor of Spatial Planning at Manchester Urban Institute, and a Fellow of both the Academy of Social Sciences and of the Royal Town Planning Institute. She is Chair of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Research Approvals and Data Acquisition Committees and sits as a Commissioner for UK2070.
Tom Arnold is a Doctoral Researcher at The University of Manchester’s School of Environment, Education and Development, researching transport planning and devolution in the North of England.
Mark Baker is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the Manchester Urban Institute and a chartered town planner with previous professional experience at Durham County Council and at the Government Offices for both North East England and North West England.
Dr. Caglar Koksal is a Research Associate and Lecturer in Urban Planning at the University of Manchester, with research interests including critical urban theory; political economy; infrastructure financing and funding; and public policy making.
Dr. Andreas Schulze Bäing is Lecturer in Urban Development at The University of Manchester’s School of Environment, Education and Development with research interests in deprivation patterns and regeneration policies.
Dr Helen Wei Zheng is a Postdoc Research Associate at the Manchester Urban Institute working on the ‘Eco-urbanisation: Promoting Sustainable Development in Metropolitan Regions of China’ project.

Professor Philip McCann publishes Think Piece on Perceptions of Regional Inequality

By | Think Piece

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.

Professor McCann not only concludes that the UK is one of most regionally unbalanced countries in the industrialised world; but also notes that this is something rarely accurately reported, or even understood, by the national media. The report studies online debate about the publication by The Economist on 21st October 2018 of a diagram which sought to show the differences in productivity between UK regions when compared with other countries; a written response to this by the organisation, FullFact; and the tweets of political commentators discussing the accuracy of both reports and their own opinions.

The report also considers the usefulness and interpretation of different measures of inequality; the logic, construction and use of the various OECD regional and urban datasets, and uses both of these to revisit the debate between The Economist and FullFact.

Read the report in full here.

Professor Philip McCann is also the Tagliaferri Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge and has been special adviser to two different European Commissioners for Regional and Urban Policy, and to a range of international bodies, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Investment Bank. He sits as a Commissioner for UK2070.

UK2070 Commission opens Call For Evidence after successful launch at House of Lords

By | News

The UK 2070 Commission – an independent inquiry into the UK’s regional inequalities – was today (9 October 2018) launched at a reception in the House of Lords, with Commission chairman Lord Kerslake also opening the Commission’s Call For Evidence with submissions from all interested individuals parties welcome before the deadline of Friday 16 November.

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

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

They will be supported by a research partnership involving the University of Sheffield, the University of Manchester, University College London, the University of Liverpool and the University of Cambridge, along with additional support from the Sir Hugh and Lady Sykes Charitable Trust, the Heseltine Institute at the University of Liverpool, the University of Cambridge and the RSA.

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

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

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

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

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

The Commission will carry out its work over the next 12 months, delivering a final report in January 2020.

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

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

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


For further information, please visit the FAQs page of our website or contact Philip Brown at