If you would like to contact us about our work, please email: UK2070Commission@turntown.com

Minister Visit UK2070 Commission and Teesside University (Trade Mission 6)

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South Africa Minister and Department for Science and Innovation Delegation visiting the Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre, Teesside Hosted by UK2070 Commission

Led by South African Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, the delegation visited the Tees Valley to learn how the University’s Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre (NZIIC) is helping to support the region’s ambition of becoming the first and largest decarbonised industrial cluster by 2040.

The £13.1m facility, which opened for business earlier this year, is a national centre of excellence for net zero technologies and is already helping position the Tees Valley firmly at the heart of the UK’s green industrial revolution.

The visit was organised by the UK2070 Commission, an independent inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the UK and led by UK2070 Commissioner and Teesside Taskforce Chair, Professor Michael Henson.

Industry partners including representatives from global companies Turner & Townsend and bp joined the delegation. As part of the programme, the visitors were shown how the University is supporting the growth of innovative new businesses which are finding solutions to address the climate emergency and had the opportunity to talk with representatives from SeerBi,Stuff4Life and XHeat.

The NZIIC’s work to create a circular economy was demonstrated by its collaboration with Stuff4Life, a start-up business that is finding a use for end-of-life workwear which would otherwise have ended up in landfill.

Professor Stephen Cummings, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), said:
“We were delighted to welcome our guests from South Africa and to showcase how Teesside University is fulfilling its role as an anchor institution for the Tees Valley by driving forward innovation and investment in green technologies.  Since opening this year, the NZIIC has had a demonstrable impact on green innovation in the region. We were very pleased to show how industry and academic collaboration is reaping dividends and helping position this region as a hub for green and sustainable growth.”

Gari Harris, Director of the NZIIC

“A key part of our mission is to support the just transition to a net zero economy and we look forward to sharing knowledge and cooperating further to support our communities to achieve this goal.”

Gari Harris, Director of the NZIIC, added: “Since opening this year, the NZIIC has had a demonstrable impact on green innovation in the region.

“We were very pleased to show how industry and academic collaboration is reaping dividends and helping position this region as a hub for green and sustainable growth.”

Through the UK20270 Teesside Taskforce, Teesside University has already established strong links and hosted previous visits with South African officials and has signed a collaboration agreement with South Africa’s Stellenbosch and Pretoria Universities deepening UK-South African academic collaboration on hydrogen.

Professor Michael Henson, UK2070 Commissioner, said:
“Over the last year I have had the pleasure of leading the UK2070 Commission’s South Africa/UK partnership programme championing the role of the Tees Valley and Teesside University in green industries. The programme has included several missions to the UK and a visit to South Africa with Teesside University colleagues.

“As Commissioner, I was delighted to welcome the South African Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande and his team back to Teesside for a second visit. We look forward to building on this latest visit and identifying further areas for collaboration.”

Website version here

See previous press release – Trade Mission 5-Presidential Climate Commission:

Building on international collaboration between South Africa and Teesside University
Dr Crispian Olver Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Commission established by the President of the Republic of South Africa

Website version here

It’s not just supply and demand: Rethinking England’s housing crisis, the scope and need for local solutions

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The UK2070 Commission today publishes a report titled “Rethinking the Housing Crisis: the Challenges and Opportunities in England’s combined authority areas”, written by Dr Leonard Gibbs, Dr Wei Zheng and Professor Cecilia Wong from the University of Manchester.  

The report reveals the key changes in housing tenure in England, showing the high rates of growth in outright ownership and private renting and the related issues around housing affordability for new entrants and renters. Using geo-mapping, the report highlights the different housing markets within England, showing the places where the market is overheated and those where prices are declining or failing to keep up with inflation. The report shows the clear divides in England’s housing market and the impacts and influences on inward migration. The report shows the complexity of factors influencing housing affordability, demonstrating the need for regional and local solutions, and makes the continuing case for levelling up in the North of England.

A Paper on the issue of Mass Transit in the future is published

By | News, Think Piece

The UK2070 Commission today publishes a Paper on the issue of Mass Transit in the future, written by Dr Peter Ewen. Mass Transit systems are fundamental to the Gross Value Added of Major Cities but are unaffordable to most and take too long to implement. The situation is set to worsen as by 2050 the number of people living in cities will grow by 60%.

Dr Ewen proposes that tinkering with current Mass Transit solutions will not meet the needs of today, let alone the future, and that a paradigm shift in how we provide Mass Transit solutions is required. Autonomous Network Transit systems provide a credible and affordable solution. They are cleaner, infinitely quicker to build and provide a much better service to the customer than traditional Mass Transit systems. Dr Ewen spent many years in aviation before moving into Mass Transit rail where he soon realised that the time has come to think differently and embrace the opportunities presented by technology for the people of our cities.

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. 

UK2070 Commission Go Local Report

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Cecilia Wong and Helen Zheng, both from the University of Manchester, are authors of the ‘UK2070 Commission Go Local’ report`

Unlike most macro-economic and regional analysis, this report unravels the spatial patterns behind the so-called ‘productivity puzzle’ of the UK. Through GIS mapping analysis, the report aims to provide a better understanding of the emerging spatial landscape of productivity and employment change and to examine whether the spatial patterns are related to different labour market conditions and infrastructure provisions across England. When analysing the more recent trend between 2015 and 2019, five combined authority areas (West Yorkshire, North of Tyne, Greater Manchester, North East, and West Midlands) enjoyed growth in GVA per hour worked for over 4.4% in real terms, which outperformed Greater London’s 3.19% increase. The analysis in the report lays bare the spatial landscape of different socio-economic conditions and challenges faced by different local and combined authorities, as well as highlighting opportunities for more creative spatial thinking to exploit synergies across different places. The report aims to inform the ‘Go Local’ agenda of the UK2070 Commission to achieve its 10-Point Action Plan.

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 Commission Integrated Rail Plan Inquiry – Call for Evidence

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The UK2070 Commission has called for a UK-wide Connectivity Strategy would make the UK one of the best-connected countries in the developed world. This is key to levelling up agenda. The key components of this include a network of connected cities; sustainable mass transit systems within all major urban areas; enhanced connectivity beyond to the marginalised communities.  This requires an integrated rail plan for the UK.  In order to help its inquiry into the continuing barriers to delivering this agenda it is making a call for evidence from all interested parties.

Any person or organisation interested in submitting evidence to the Uk2070 Commission should do so by 30th June 2022 to the following email address UK2070Commisison@turntown.com

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact UK2070Commisison@turntown.com

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 www.uk2070.org.uk

Social media @uk_2070

Email UK2070Commission@turntown.com


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).

[ii] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jul/12/uk-wealth-gap-widens-in-pandemic-as-richest-get-50000-windfall

[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.”



Teesside University welcomes UK2070 Commission taskforce to tackle regional inequality

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Those at the forefront of levelling-up opportunity for the Tees Valley have gathered at Teesside University for an important summit designed to help tackle regional inequality and provide additional opportunities for jobs and growth.

The UK2070 Commission’s Teesside Taskforce, held a formal evidence session at Teesside University this week, where it heard how areas including freeports, steel, hydrogen and the wider net zero agenda can provide a boost for the region.

It comes in the days after Teesside University was named as the top university in the country for social inclusion, highlighting the institution’s work to embrace social mobility and encourage greater participation in higher education from underrepresented groups.

The UK2070 Commission, chaired by Lord Kerslake, is an independent inquiry into national and regional inequalities in the UK. Its aim is to illustrate the potential for change and identify an agenda of action to deliver it.

Last year, as part of the Commission, a Teesside Taskforce was set up to examine how certain sectors could increase quality job opportunities in the region and ultimately enhance people’s prospects and wellbeing.

Teesside University has already contributed several pieces of evidence for the Teesside Taskforce and has been working in partnership with the Commission to develop actions around the levelling up agenda. Professor Stephen Cummings, Pro Vice-Chancellor, (Research and Innovation) at Teesside University contributed to the evidence session.

It also included feedback from the likes of Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and CEO of the Materials Processing Institute Chris McDonald, who have been instrumental in the Teesside Taskforce. A final report will now be published and shared with Government as part of the UK2070 Commission.

Teesside University Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Paul Croney, said:  “I was delighted to welcome Lord Kerslake and the UK2070 Commission to Teesside University for this important session.

“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, and we have welcomed the work of the Teesside Taskforce in galvanising this critical activity.

“As the UK seeks to build back better, it has never been so important for the voice and experience of the regions to be reflected in national policy and decision-making. Teesside University will continue to contribute the knowledge, skills and insight to develop solutions that shape the future, today.”

The report from the Teesside Taskforce advised that the scale of change needed to transform the Tees Valley requires productivity and employment to increase by 10% and the rate of innovation to double.

The Taskforce recommends the development of a regional Clean Growth Strategy and vision that rejects the narrative around ‘left behind towns’ and builds on the ambitions of the Tees Valley and opportunities such as Freeports, investment in Net Zero and Treasury North.

Lord Kerslake, Chair of the UK2070 Commission, said: “I was pleased to chair this formal Teesside Taskforce session and thank you Teesside University for 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.

“Further helping realise the future potential of the Tees Valley, whilst reducing inequality, I wanted to thank everyone, especially Mayor Houchen and the Combined Authority, for their support.”

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 was pleased to welcome Lord Kerslake to the region and give evidence as to how we can achieve our ambitions, ambitions that will deliver a brighter future for local people as we spearhead the UK’s transition to being a net zero nation by 2050.”

Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “I am pleased to have been invited to give formal oral evidence to the UK2070 Commission on their independent enquiry into national and regional inequalities.  As part of the UK2070 Teesside Task Force, I will be focussing on how we can realise the future potential of the Tees Valley, creating jobs and growth, whilst reducing inequality.”

David Whysall, Managing Director of UK Infrastructure, Turner & Townsend, said: “Turner & Townsend has a long-standing commitment to the Teesside region and its people, having been established in Darlington 75 years ago. We fully support the aims of the UK2070 Commission and the Teesside Taskforce and are pleased contribute to today’s evidence session. From freeports to hydrogen and net zero, there are some fantastic opportunities in the region, but they need to be harnessed in the right way to ensure that the social, environmental and economic benefits are felt by everyone on Teesside.”

Dr Rebecca Maserumule, Department of Science & Innovation,
Republic of South Africa Chief Director and Member of the Green Hydrogen Commercialization Ministerial Panel said:

“We congratulate the transformational work that Lord Kerslake, the UK2070 Commission and the Teesside Taskforce is embarking on.

“The Teesside Taskforce, in particular, has created the pathway for local-to-global collaboration that will catapult the built-back-better agenda to the level of international co-operation and trade. Turner & Townsend, part of the legacy of the Darlington economic landscape, has used its international reach to connect our Department, Gauteng and Limpopo Provinces with the UK and specifically Teesside Valley.

“An ethos that we invoke from the African Proverb ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’.

“We look forward to collaborating with UK2070 Commission & it’s partnerships across the UK.”

Stephen McCartney, Managing Director of Turner & Townsend Africa, said:
“Turner & Townsend commends the UK 2070 Commission and Teesside Taskforce on making such a fundamental contribution to socio-economic development and social impact. This will herald a new economic renaissance for the UK market.

“With our pan-African purview, we look forward to supporting partners in Africa, like the Department of Science & Innovation in Republic of South Africa, to connect with industry players and Government stakeholders. Economic Reconstruction in South Africa, and an Africa Rising agenda supported by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), make the region an perfect partner with the UK to secure a new sustainable future for our economies. We look forward to supporting the UK2070 Commission and the Teesside Taskforce.”


Editors Notes:

Further details can be found here www.uk2070.org.uk


The UK2070 Commission is an independent inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the UK. Chaired by Lord Kerslake, it has been set up to conduct a review of the policy and spatial issues related to the UK’s long-term city and regional development.

The UK2070 Commission has set up a Task Force in support of the long-standing aspirations for the wellbeing of the Teesside.

This will depend upon a major increase in number and quality of employment opportunities in the region.

As highlighted in the findings of UK2070 Commission, this is critical to delivering the levelling up of social conditions and lifetime prospects of the communities in the Teesside. This is also of national importance to the economic future of the UK in recalibrating the capacity, performance, and resilience to risk of all its major regions, including the Teesside.

Media contacts:

Gary Martin:

Communications Manager, Teesside University, 07557 082 810.

Michael S Henson:

Turner & Townsend, 07514 738044


Statement: Lord Kerslake, Chair of the UK2070 Commission

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Levelling Up: Meeting the Challenge

The inequalities in economic performance and social conditions across the UK are now accepted by all parties as being unacceptable and shame on this country. The Prime Minister’s speech on 15th July, set out the steps the Government is taking to level up the UK, especially given the impact of the pandemic. 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.

Inequality operates at two levels – regional inequalities arising from the imbalanced economic development of the UK and the acute deprivation hotspots in areas of economic growth. These two challenges are being conflated with the risk of failing to address the core purpose of the levelling-up policy. Clarity is needed about the levelling up agenda in order to provide the confidence to local communities, leaders and long-term investors, namely to rebalance the economic geography of the UK.

Central to this is the need to recognise that, as the Prime Minster made clear, levelling up is not a zero-sum game. As demonstrated by the work of the UK2070 Commission – ‘Uplifting the north, Uplifts the south’. Not only will levelling up raise overall productivity in the UK but also it will reduce pressure on overheated housing markets in London and the wider south east of England.

Nor should levelling up be reduced to a town v cities debate. There is no doubt that many of our towns need a greater focus than they have had. However, the cities have a pivotal role to play. Without their success it is hard to see our towns succeeding.

Levelling up also needs to be seen as contributing to the global role of the UK, attracting inward investment and talent. It can be likened to changing from flying a plane with one big, highly strained engine (London and the South East) to one with multiple and distributed engines, increasing the overall capacity of the UK for growth and give it greater resilience to future global shocks.

The very depth of inequalities across the UK however means that national prescribed solutions are not appropriate. The levelling-up must be delivered through local leadership supported nationally, through local strategic bodies with access to and control of funds, as catalysts for external funds and in convening collaborative action with private partners. The push towards greater devolution in the Prime Minister’s speech is welcome.

Levelling-up policy must address the diversity of the needs of places suffering from: the legacy of deindustrialisation; stagnating earnings and incomes; or growing inequalities life chances requiring a focus on health, education and social mobility. Nothing less than large scale, comprehensive and long-term aligned action across the whole UK will deliver levelling-up.

The UK2070 Commission has set out a 10-Point plan to translate the rhetoric of levelling up into programmes of action with clear targets, for not only improving productivity but also levelling-up access to Job Opportunities: and Basic Services, and enhancing Environmental Conditions and social mobility. This includes changing the way things are done, and seen to be done. In effect this means ‘Changing the Rulebook, building on the experiences of creating successful places. The UK2070 Commission therefore undertaking work to demonstrate these principles, through Task Forces in Teesside and other areas.

A collective public and private commitment is required to transform policy into action that will shape the future of the UK over the next 25 years. The UK2070 Commission will be responding in full to the Prime Minister’s call for views on delivering this new deal for the future of the UK.

Thank you,

Lord Kerslake
Chair, UK2070 Commission

End of Year Message from UK2070 Commission Chair, Lord Kerslake

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First of all, I want to thank everybody who has helped the UK2070 Commission over the last year.

The health and economic consequences of COVID-19 have understandably dominated most of the year. We were fortunate to launch our Third and what we thought would be our Final Report at the end of February, before the pandemic took hold.

Despite the dominance of COVID-19, we have been able to make good progress on work to highlight the spatial inequalities of the UK and measures needed to address them. COVID-19 has made ‘levelling up’ harder but also more urgent.

The continued engagement of the commissioners, our partner universities and our other supporters has meant that we have been able to keep the debate going.

As a result, the UK2070 Commission has been able to sustain its pressure for change through a wide range of activities including:

  • In October undertaking a major assessment of the impact of COVID-19, by publishing Go Big – Go Local: The UK2070 Report on a New Deal for Levelling Up the United Kingdom, which confirmed that coronavirus had exacerbated regional inequality divides, and called for the implementation of our 10 Point Action Plan, including a step change in the devolution of powers and funding;
  • Engaging with government and parliamentary committees on the need to re-shape industrial strategy, infrastructure priorities and the planning system to deliver the levelling up agenda; and
  • Supporting others who are equally committed to building a better future, ranging from the Commission on the College of the Future re-shaping skills and the FE agenda, to endorsing the work of leading universities in their research agenda and civic engagement.

We are committed to sustaining our efforts in 2021. Amongst other things this will include:

  • Promoting a series of local Task Forces to make local the 10-Point Action Plan. We have already started on Teesside and are in advanced discussions with other strategic alliances;
  • Contributing to the United Nations Climate Change (COP26) Conference discussions to ensure that a ‘spatially just’ transition to zero-carbon is at the top of the agenda; and
  • Continuing to work with government, to ensure their commitment to a green recovery plan and locally-led action is not undermined by short-term, underfunded and micro-managed programmes.

So please watch this space, both here on our website and on our Twitter feed; and furthermore, please continue to contribute by contacting us at uk2070commission@turntown.com.

Thank you,

Lord Kerslake
Chair, UK2070 Commission

Northern Powerhouse Partnership and UK2070 Commission call for greater role for Mayors to lead Fourth Industrial Revolution

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  • Lord Kerslake calls for ‘levelling up’ role to be given to a Cabinet Minister
  • Fourth Industrial Revolution in the North of England could unlock thousands of skilled, future-ready jobs in green sectors and industries key to increasing productivity

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) and the UK2070 Commission are together calling for Metro Mayors to be given a greater say in leading the UK’s recovery from COVID-19, including of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the North of England.

Ahead of the 2020 Spending Review on Wednesday 25th November, NPP director Henri Murison and Chair of the UK2070 Commission The Right Honourable The Lord Kerslake, will each call for clarity on the plan for levelling up, alongside targeted investment in industries that increase productivity.

They will tell the House of Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee on Tuesday 24 November (10.30am start) that the UK’s recovery must focus on devolving more powers to locally-elected leaders and allowing them to upskill the workforce in key industries of the future, including advanced manufacturing, digital and green energies.

These sectors could hold the key to solving the UK’s productivity crisis that lies at the root of both the North-South divide, and wider regional inequalities across England.

While the Prime Minster has maintained that levelling up remains a top priority, Lord Kerslake will say that there is still no sign of a plan and that the government must appoint a dedicated Cabinet member and committee to ensure they deliver on election promises.

In October, the UK2070 Commission found that COVID-19 has exacerbated the UK’s economic dependency on London and the wider South East of England, calling for a £375bn 25-year New Deal strategy for a ‘just recovery’ to offset:

  • The £4bn a year gap in research and development investment, through creating at least four global centres of science and technology outside the UK’s so called ‘Golden Triangle’.
  • The £20bn per year cost of poor local connectivity, through major investment in transit systems in all major towns – and about 1,000 miles of new, upgraded and electrified main railway lines and services to more remote communities.

Last month, the UK2070 Commission set up the UK2070 Teesside Taskforce to support the creation of better-quality, skilled job opportunities in the North East of England, through investment in freeports, steel, hydrogen and the wider net-zero agenda.

Mr Murison will be speaking at The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), a world-leading research and innovation institution with more than 120 industrial partners.

The AMRC is part of The University of Sheffield and it is also one of the national High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres – a world-leading hub for manufacturing companies, academia and government to drive improvements across multiple industries; whether aerospace, energy, construction or rail.

The AMRC Training Centre in Rotherham provides apprenticeship training to students aged 16 and over through partnerships with both SMEs and global brands, including Boeing, Rolls-Royce and McLaren.

Mr Murison will highlight the role that companies like Sheffield Forgemasters can play in developing world-leading Small Modular Reactor technologies (SMR), with the potential to form a vital role in decarbonising the UK’s energy strategy and closing the power deficit.

In its recent Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the UK Government announced £215 million funding for the UK SMR Consortium led by Rolls-Royce. The consortium comprises nine companies and research organisations, including the Nuclear AMRC – the AMRC’s sister centre, also part of the University of Sheffield – and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

The consortium aims to have its first power station in operation in the early 2030s, with the development programme creating around 6,000 jobs by 2025. By value up to 80 per cent of the power station’s components will be made in factories in the North of England and the Midlands.

Sheffield Forgemasters received funding from the government in 2019 to build a large-scale Bost five-axis Vertical Turning Lathe and a Bost RAM Boring Machine, the first of their kind in the UK, which combined with the company’s depth of manufacturing skill for civil nuclear projects, delivers a significant technological advantage in this market.

SMRs are potentially faster to manufacture, safer and easier to decommission than large nuclear power plants and, by keeping the supply chain in the UK, will create more skilled green jobs in the economic recovery.

Lord Kerslake said: “While we’ve seen plenty of warm words about levelling up, we still need a plan for devolution of further fiscal powers.”

“Central and regional government both have a part to play in delivering this agenda. We need a dedicated cabinet member and committee, working alongside Metro Mayors across the Western Gateway, the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse, to build a comprehensive plan for economic rebalancing.”

“The UK is one of the most centralised, imbalanced, developed countries in the world and this has a serious detrimental impact on our ability to drive economic growth. Recovery post COVID-19 will only take place once we realise that.”

Henri Murison said: “Unlocking the North of England’s true economic potential through accelerating decarbonisation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not only crucial to closing the North-South divide, it is essential to recovery across the whole of the UK.”

“The North’s vast economic assets are still hugely underutilised but through sustained investment in sectors such as off-shore wind, hydrogen and SMRs; alongside targeted, locally-led skills programmes; we can build back better in some of the areas worst-hit economically by COVID-19.”

“We need to invest in both infrastructure and people to deliver this vision, upskilling and reskilling the workforce in highly-productive industries and sustainable energies that drive economic growth across the whole of the country.”

UK2070 Commission Launches Teesside Taskforce

By | News

The UK2070 Commission – an independent inquiry into regional inequalities in the UK chaired by The Right Honourable The Lord Kerslake – today officially launched the UK2070 Teesside Taskforce.

The Taskforce will work in support of the UK2070 Commission’s long-standing aspirations for a major increase in the number and quality of job opportunities in the region, alongside enhancing the wellbeing of people who live in Teesside.

The Teesside Taskforce will look in particular at the potential of freeports, steel, hydrogen and the wider net zero agenda to boost opportunity for people from across the Tees Valley.

In order to help the Taskforce, the UK2070 Commission is making a Call for Evidence from all interested parties on four key issues:

  • The key issues facing Teesside, whether they be economic, social, environmental and political.
  • The main opportunities for the Teesside area.
  • The resource and institutional requirements needed to tackle the problems and release the opportunities.
  • Discovering what successful projects and initiatives have been developed in Teesside that might be replicated.

Submissions should be made in response to the Terms Of Reference and our Call For Evidence by Friday 4th December 2020, with the findings of the Taskforce being submitted by spring 2021 to the Tees Valley Combined Authority; to the Mayor of Tees Valley, Ben Houchen; and to the UK Government.

Evidence may be submitted by emailing uk2070commission@turntown.com.

The UK2070 Teesside Taskforce will be further supported by a Taskforce Steering Group comprised of local business and academic representatives, and representatives from both the Department for International Trade and the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Lord Kerslake said:

“I am delighted to make this announcement today with Mayor Houchen, on the formation of the UK2070 Teesside Taskforce. This is the first of a series of UK2070 Taskforces that will focus on places. This Taskforce will look in particular at the potential of freeports, steel, hydrogen and the wider net zero agenda. The Commission welcomes the opportunity to understand and learn from the Teesside Taskforce programme.”

The Mayor of Tees Valley, Ben Houchen said:

“It is absolutely essential that we boost the Tees Valley’s economy, that’s why I have put freeports, green steel making and carbon capture technologies at the centre of my plan for jobs – a plan that is delivering good quality well paid jobs for people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool right now.
I welcome the UK2070 Commission’s Teesside Taskforce and its’ focus on our region, and I look forward to telling them about my plans to create jobs. As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we secure the investment that will create the jobs we all want to see come to our region, so that local people can have more money in their pockets for them and their families.”

Lord Kerslake further commented:

“The Taskforce is a logical development from our most recent report, Go Big Go Local, which looked at the ‘levelling up’ agenda in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will draw together proposals to help create sustained new investment and open up new market opportunities through both existing programmes and new initiatives and funding streams. The opportunity to apply the ideas of the UK2070 Commission in specific places is an exciting one. The Teesside Taskforce will be a pioneer of this new approach.”

Jacob Young MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hydrogen, said:

“As Chair of the APPG on Hydrogen and Member of Parliament for Redcar, I’m delighted to see the formation of the UK2070 Teesside Taskforce with a commitment to study hydrogen and the net zero agenda. The UK2070 Teesside Taskforce is being launched at a crucial time and demonstrates the anticipation from political leaders, policymakers, and local businesses to support net-zero targets. I look forward to working with the Taskforce to create jobs and grow the local economy in Teesside.”

Chris McDonald, Chief Executive Officer of the Materials Processing Institute, said:

“As an advocate for the Green Industrial Revolution, I welcome the news that the UK2070 Commission are creating a Teesside Taskforce to focus on areas such as green steelmaking and net zero carbon technologies. I am pleased to be joining the Taskforce and to contribute my personal expertise in support of developing these industries in Teesside and for the UK.”

Go Big – Go Local: The UK2070 Report on a New Deal for Levelling Up the United Kingdom

By | News

The UK2070 Commission has today found that COVID-19 has increased the urgency for a comprehensive, large scale plan to level the UK economy. In a follow up report to Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future – which found that the UK is the most unequal large country in the developed world – the UK2070 Commission has now found that the pandemic has exposed the UK’s economic dependency on London and the Wider South East. Only a balanced growth plan is likely to deliver greater prosperity without damaging environmental and social consequences.

The UK2070 Commission has prepared a post-COVID Action Plan setting out the priorities for action over the next ten years. Learning the lessons from the COVID-19 response, it proposes a major programme of investment in transport, skills and the advanced economy; coupled with a radical devolution of powers; and funding from Whitehall.

Click here to read the Report

The Right Honourable The Lord Kerslake, Chair of the UK2070 Commission and former Head of the Civil Service, said:

“Our new post-COVID Action Plan sets out a proposed programme of action which unlocks capacity and delivers action at scale through local democratic leadership. We are calling on the Government to Go Big – Go Local.”

“We’re saying what is missing is a clear plan setting out the scale and form of levelling up, the actions required to deliver it, and measures and milestones to success.”

“COVID-19 may have changed the path to delivery of levelling up, but not its urgency and importance. The temptation of the government will be to rein in their ambitions and spending. This would be a serious error. To have any meaningful impact, what is needed now is a New Deal for ‘levelling up’.”

The Right Honourable The Lord Kerslake

The UK2070 Commission found that COVID-19 has reinforced existing patterns of inequality in terms of wealth, ethnicity and gender, with its impacts being exacerbated by an over-centralised political system and economic dependency on London’s growth. Our research finds that COVID-19 will take at least 5 years to return the UK economy back to where it was – indeed, if there is sustained low economic growth there will be a continued regional recession outside Greater London and the Wider South East of England.

The current COVID-recovery programmes are short term and not sufficient to deliver the change required.  A dynamic recovery requires higher levels of growth, strong regional development policies and national targets for ‘levelling up’ the most disadvantaged communities in terms of access to good job opportunities and standards of basic services (e.g. medical).

The rhetoric of ‘levelling up’ must be translated into a £375bn 25-year New Deal strategy for a ‘just recovery’ to offset:

  • The £4bn per year gap in research and development investment, through creating at least four global centres of science and technology outside the UK’s ‘golden triangle’.
  • The £20bn per year cost of poor local connectivity, through major investment in transit systems in all major towns – and around 1000 miles of new, upgraded and electrified main railway lines and services to remoter communities.

The UK is the most centralised major developed economy, and this inhibits national economic growth. A real transfer of fiscal power to local and devolved governments is urgently required to allow recovery.

To read Go Big – Go Local: A New Deal for Levelling Up the United Kingdom in full, please click here.

The UK2070 Papers – Series 2

By | Uncategorized

In February of this year, as part of our Final Report, the UK2070 Commission created a 10-Point Plan to tackle the regional inequalities that have blighted the UK for many decades. Subsequent to publishing Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has transformed all of our lives, but has also highlighted even further the need for Government to ‘think big’ if economic performance and social conditions are to be improved across the UK.

In October 2020 the UK2070 Commission plans to publish a report to Government, proposing a plan with coherent priorities for how to carry out the Government’s stated aim of ‘levelling-up’ the UK economy. The UK2070 Commission is pleased to have received a great deal of support for this initiative, including a range of think-pieces, which we are choosing to issue as the UK2070 Papers.

Series 1 was published in August, with the September edition published today. Series 2 has nine papers focussing on the impact of COVID-19 on the future of the UK, including:

  • An assessment of how COVID-19 could drive changes to local government funding and the ongoing balance between centrally-raised and locally-raised revenues;
  • Analysis of both the higher education and further education sectors, both for the vital role each plays in addressing regional inequalities, and for how they must now be more related to their local economy as ‘place’ will matter more, and not less, after the pandemic, and;
  • Discussion of the impact of COVID-19 on social housing provision and the wider housing market; on the construction industry’s supply chain; and perspectives from Wales and the East Midlands.

To read The UK2070 Papers – Series 2, please click here.

The UK2070 Papers – Series 1

By | News

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 has been published today, 30th July, 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.

Feedback and comments are most welcome and can be sent to UK2070Commission@turntown.com, or on Twitter @UK_2070.

Statement: Lord Kerslake, Chair of the UK2070 Commission

By | News

The UK2070 Commission completed its Final Report in February 2020. That report set out a 10-Point Plan to overcome the deep-rooted regional inequalities that blight the lives of so many of our communities, and to accelerate economic growth across the whole of the UK. The health and economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis, including the risk of a deep economic depression, has hugely increased the importance of our agenda.

That agenda has now been taken up by the Prime Minister in his commitment to ‘double-down’ on a levelling-up agenda for the UK. We warmly welcome the Prime Minister’s resolve.

The Commission shares the Prime Minister’s commitment and wants to see its 10- Point Plan implemented. Together with the encouragement of our Commissioners and many others who have supported us, UK2070 will therefore:

  • Provide an independent platform for debate and ideas about how to tackle our regional inequalities;
  • Keep under review the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis and the implications for regional growth and inequalities;
  • Act as a critical support to the government’s levelling-up agenda;
  • Contribute to the shaping of policy as it develops.

In response to the Covid-19 crisis the UK2070 Commission has made a further Call for Evidence. The emerging findings from the evidence reinforce the arguments in the UK2070 Commission’s 10-Point Plan; for a comprehensive and long-term approach to levelling-up the UK. They also strengthen the case for new executive and planning institutions to lead change in our cities, nations and regions – so that central government can concentrate on its core role of high-level UK policy and management.

The Covid-19 crisis and the emerging economic consequences have created radical uncertainty. This demands a clear plan for levelling-up, with coherent priorities, led by effective long-term institutions both for planning and for execution.

Lord Kerslake

Chair of the UK2070 Commission

Email UK2070Commission@turntown.com
Twitter @uk_2070

Statement: Lord Kerslake, Chair of the UK2070 Commission – Preparing to Rebuild a Fairer and Stronger UK

By | News

A month ago, I launched the UK2070 Commission Final Report Make No Little Plans: Acting At Scale For a Fairer and Stronger Future.

The Report presents a 10-Point programme of action to tackle the regional inequalities that have blighted the UK for too long. It highlights the need to ‘think big’ if economic performance and social conditions are to be levelled-up across the UK.

This report received wide support nationally, regionally and locally. The agenda for action has been endorsed across the country, from the Tyne to Cornwall, from Glasgow to London and from all the devolved nations. It received wide coverage in all the major national media and press. It has, as a result, helped generate a national conversation, reflected in the level of media traffic, with over 100,000 online hits on the day of the launch alone.

It is also clear that the agenda set out in the Report is reflected in the range of actions that have been set in hand by the Government immediately before the COVID 19 crisis. This includes the Chancellor’s budget statement on levelling up, including the priority that needs to be given to increasing significantly the investment in R&D and the Infrastructure of the UK.

The current COVID19 crisis itself has two implications for the work of the Commission:

  • Firstly, on a practical level we have had to rethink our programme – for example, the regional road-shows have had to be put on hold.
  • Secondly, the June event in the House of Lords to present a 100-day Report will now not take place.

This however does not lessen the importance of the Commission’s call for action. Not since the Second World War has there been a greater need for a clear Vision for the renewal of the UK, its wealth and wellbeing, as presented in our Report. It is now even more important to maintain our effort, albeit through different channels.

We are therefore continuing to engage with Government and other key bodies in anticipation of the need to kick-start the economy and to adapt to inevitable change with the same energy that is being applied to defeating the pandemic itself. I will therefore prepare a Progress Report for publication as soon as it is appropriate. This will take forward the proposals in the report, refresh its analytical basis and take account of any new evidence.

I therefore seek the continuing support of all – from government, business, civil society, think tanks and universities. On a practical basis you could do this by signing up to our Declaration of Intent and letting us know of any new evidence that you are aware of that we should bear in mind. In addition, I would welcome any think piece that you could contribute to the development of our thinking on the implications of the current crisis and the need for levelling-up of the UK.

Lord Kerslake

Email UK2070Commission@turntown.com
Twitter @uk_2070

UK2070 Final Report Published

By | News

MediaCityUK, Salford, 27 February 2020 – The UK2070 Commission issued both its Final Report Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future and an Executive Summary of this Report today, with 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.”

Click here to read the Executive Summary

The UK2070 Commission calls on Government to stand alongsidehttps://uk2070.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/UK2070-EXEC-SUMMARY-FINAL-REPORT-Copy.pdf business and community organisations and make a public pledge to tackle inequality through a 10-point programme contained with 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.

Click here to read the Final Report

Lord Kerslake continued: “This is not a debate about North vs South or towns vs cities. If we continue on our current trajectory then the threats to regional livelihoods and the pressures on London and the South East will become so severe that everybody will lose out. We also need to recognise that the price of failing to reverse this decline will far outweigh the cost of investing now in creating greater opportunities. Properly investing in levelling-up will come at a cost – but so will doing nothing about it.”

The UK2070 Commission’s findings represent the culmination of 18 months of research and consultation carried out by six UK universities, supported by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a specialist research organisation based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Commission’s Final Report offers graphic insights into the impact of lost productivity – and points to the need for substantially increased long-term investment in infrastructure, skills, research and development and reviving local economies.

“The government’s recent decision to proceed in full with HS2 is correct because it represents coordinated investment at a scale that has the potential to benefit the whole economy,” said Lord Kerslake. “But that is only the start. The immensity of the challenge the UK faces means we need to see sustained interventions of a similar magnitude across the economy.”

Lord Kerslake concluded: “Over the past 18 months, the Commission has gathered disturbing evidence about the human impacts of inequality that no one should be comfortable with. Bluntly, it is also clear that trying to determine the future of regional Britain from Whitehall alone has not worked. It is therefore vital that the government recognises the reality of the challenge they face to truly level up the UK. We start from having huge inequalities now that are only growing wider.

“Unless the Government’s levelling up programme is comprehensive, coordinated and long term it is destined to go the way of the failed initiatives of previous administrations. This will result in even greater disillusionment. We can create a fairer and stronger future, but only if we act at scale.”

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.

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

By | Think Piece

The UK2070 Commission has today published a ‘provocation’ submitted to our Call For Evidence written by three academics at the Bartlett School of Planning and the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies entitled Land use planning, inequality and the problem of ‘left-behind-places’.

Professor John Tomaney, Professor Andy Pike and Dr. Lucy Natarajan argue that to find new ways to address the problems of ‘left-behind-places’ is of critical concern for the future of the United Kingdom, and that any forthcoming reform of the planning system should make this a policy priority. Their report considers ‘left-behind-places’ – typically formerly industrial regions – to discover the political economy of these ‘left-behind’ regions; to critically account recent efforts to ‘regenerate’ deindustrialised regions; to outline new policy prescriptions for ‘left-behind’ regions and to consider the politics of local and regional economic development, including the kinds of institutions that are required to affect a new economic future in such disadvantaged places.

They find that former industrial regions have presented a persistent problem for public policy for several decades, both in the UK and abroad – before detailing the scale of these inequalities in the UK, and discussing whether a new politics of redistribution is required. To read their Think Piece in full, please click here.

Professor John Tomaney is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning in the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London. He has published over 100 books and articles on questions of local and regional development including Local and Regional Development (2nd Edition, Routledge, 2017) and the Handbook of Local and Regional Development (Routledge 2011) co-authored with Andy Pike and Andrés Rodríguez-Pose. Professor Tomaney has conducted research for, amongst many others, the European Commission, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and both Government Departments and regional development agencies at home and overseas. Professor Tomaney also sits as a Commissioner for UK2070.

Professor Andy Pike is the Sir Henry Daysh Chair of Regional Development Studies at the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, Newcastle University with a central research interest in the geographical political economy of local, regional and urban development, governance and policy. His research has informed local, regional and urban development, governance and policy for international (e.g. the United Nations International-Labour Organization (UN-ILO); national (e.g. the National Audit Office, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation); regional (e.g. Local Enterprise Partnerships, trade unions, voluntary organisations) and local (e.g. Local Authorities, Development Agencies) institutions.

Dr. Lucy Natarajan works at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London; whilst also lecturing at both Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University and serving as a content editor for the Built Environment journal. Dr. Natarajan’s research centres on the relationship between the public and government, looking across diverse stakeholders, uses of new technologies, and building knowledge in public decision making. Her recent publications have both explained the value of lay knowledge to spatial planning and also the difficulties in involving communities with major renewable infrastructure.


Dr. Nicholas Falk publishes ‘Making Fairer Places: A Think Piece on Land Values’ to UK2070 Commission

By | Think Piece

The UK2070 Commission has today published a submission received through our Call For Evidence – Making Fairer Places: A Think Piece on Land Values – written by Dr. Nicholas Falk, Executive Director of the URBED Trust and co-winner of the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize.

Dr. Falk’s paper seeks to discuss how the UK overcomes spatial inequalities by discussing both what presently works for other countries internationally, and also what has worked for the United Kingdom in the past. Dr. Falk describes his two other main aims as:

  • To explain why harnessing land values is crucial to creating a more effective, equitable and efficient UK, and rebalancing our cities.
  • To propose how progress could be achieved in stages, starting where it will be easiest before making more fundamental changes that may take longer.

Among a variety of other recommendations, Dr. Falk proposes that a first step in mobilising private and public investment to help in tackling spatial inequalities would be to review the property tax system, with the aim of implementing a new system on the 30th anniversary of the last revaluation of domestic rates in 1991. With this process presently being undertaken in Scotland, Dr. Falk writes that applying this change throughout the country may go a long way to reducing the lack of affordable housing and to diminish unfilled gaps in transport and energy infrastructure; adding that it may also give young people more of a stake in society by reducing inter-generational inequities.

Dr Falk also writes of seven ‘ideas proposals’ which local authorities could seek to apply, centred on: Spatial Growth Plans; a better model for land assembly; growth bonds; establishing Community Development Corporations, Community Land Trusts or Local Infrastructure Finance Trusts; the creation of a Ground Value Rating and a Municipal Investment Corporation; and the promotion of community or cooperative banks. To read about each of these and much more, click here to read Dr. Falk’s full report:


Dr Nicholas Falk, BA MBA Hon FRIBA Hon MRTPI is an economist, urbanist and strategic planner. He founded the consultancy URBED in 1976, which now specialises in masterplanning and urban design from their office in Manchester. He is currently Executive Director of The URBED Trust, and was co-winner of the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize for showing how to build garden cities that are visionary, viable and popular.

His most recent commission has been to advise the Greater London Authority Deputy Mayor for Housing on international good practice published as Capital Gains: a better land assembly model for London.

Under The URBED Trust (urban and economic development), he is leading an innovative sustainable-housing project in India. In the last few years his work and interests has focused on new communities, the future of the suburbs, historic centres, and the adaptive reuse of old buildings. He has recently been advising on an urban extension to Oxford, and previously produced the Cambridgeshire Quality Charter for Growth.

He teaches the Economics of Regeneration and Reuse at New York University in London, and is a Visiting Professor at the School of the Built Environment, University of the West of England. He is a member of the Town and Country Planning Association’s Policy Advisory Council, an Academician of the Academy of Urbanism, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He lives in Stroud and London.

The Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place submit Think Piece to UK2070 on National Spatial Strategies

By | Think Piece

The fourth edition of our weekly series of Think Pieces 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. The report features a foreword written by the Chair of the UK2070 Commission, Lord Kerslake, and each of the seven chapters are variously written by ten academics, including UK2070 Commissoners Professors Ian Wray and Vincent Goodstadt. Together they bring into conversation the national spatial strategies currently being pursued in Wales, France, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and the Republic of Ireland so as to extract lessons for England – which presently has a lack of consequential national spatial strategising.

The report seeks to ask: what spatial strategies exist in these jurisdictions? What have been their recent histories? What is the current status of spatial strategising? What kinds of politics surround plan-making and implementation? Who owns plans? Who funds plans? How are plans governed? What works and what does not?

The seven chapters of the report are authored as follows, and can be read in full on the following link:

Lord Kerslake, Chair of the UK2070 Commission.

1) Introducing ‘National’ Spatial Strategies In An Age Of Inequality: Insights From The United Kingdom, Ireland And France
Professor Mark Boyle, University of Liverpool; Dr. Aileen Jones, Liverpool City-Region Combined Authority; Dr. Olivier Sykes, University of Liverpool; and Professor Ian Wray, University of Liverpool.

2) The Evolution Of National-Level Planning In Wales: A Retrenchment From Spatial Planning To Land-Use Planning
Dr. Neil Harris, Cardiff University.

3) National Spatial Planning In France: From Nostalgia To Reinvention?
Professor Xavier Desjardins, Sorbonne Université.

4) The Regional Development Strategy Northern Ireland, Inequality And Balanced Development
Dr. Brendan Murtagh, Queen’s University Belfast.

5) National Strategic Planning In Scotland: Past, Present And Future
Professor Greg Lloyd, Ulster University and Wageningen University.

6) Project Ireland 2040: Business As Usual Or A New Dawn?
Dr. Niamh Moore-Cherry, University College Dublin.

7) A New Agenda For England and The UK: The Missing Pieces In The Jigsaw
Professor Vincent Goodstadt, Common Futures Network and University of Manchester.

Think Piece on the UK’s regional disparities and development published by Dr. David Nguyen of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research

By | Think Piece

Our weekly series of Think Pieces continues today with our third paper, Regional disparities and development in the UK written by Dr. David Nguyen, a Research Economist in the Trade, Investment and Productivity Directorate at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). The report 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.

Dr. Nguyen comes to a number of conclusions, including finding that labour productivity differs across the UK’s regions – with 72% of the UK having an output per hour worked below the national average (NUTS-3 regions). Indeed, using data for regional labour productivity from the Office for National Statistic’s Gross Value Added dataset at a local authority level he finds that the absolute difference in regional productivity can vary by as much as 107 percentage points, from just 65% of average productivity in Powys to 172% above the national average in Tower Hamlets.

However, Dr. Nguyen goes on to state that by definition regional disparities are relative, and that they are meaningless without a politically agreed benchmark. Combined with the question of whether both Greater London and the South East of England over-performs at the expense of the rest of the UK; or if indeed other regions of the UK are in fact ‘under-performing’, Dr. Nguyen adds that there should be a national conversation about regional economic performance. This conversation could focus on whether improvements should be compared against either national performance, or the long-term potential of the region itself.

Read Dr. Nguyen’s Think Piece in full here:

Dr. Nguyen is also a Research Associate for the Office for National Statistics’ Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE). His main research interest is to analyse, measure and understand modern economies, with his present work focused on improving measurements of GDP and welfare, focusing on the importance of intangible inputs in an increasingly digital economy (e.g. cloud services, AI, data).


If you would like to contact us about our work, please email: UK2070Commission@turntown.com, or get in touch through Twitter @UK_2070.