An independent Commission into inequality in the UK has launched, which will see UCL academics examine the nature of inequalities across the regions and nations of the UK.
The Commission - UK2070 - was launched at a reception at the House of Lords and will be chaired by Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service. It will explore the costs and consequences, identify underlying causes and make recommendations for new policies to tackle the issues faced by disadvantaged areas, whilst supporting the sustainable growth of successful places.
UCL joins the Commission along with four other universities, forming a research partnership with the University of Manchester, the University of Sheffield, the Heseltine Institute at the University of Liverpool and the University of Cambridge.
The universities have provided resources and support for the Commission’s work, with further support coming from the US’ Lincoln Institute for Land Policy and the Sir Hugh and Lady Sykes Charitable Trust.
UCL’s lead academic on the Commission, Professor John Tomaney (UCL Bartlett School of Planning), said: "The UK2070 Commission is a major investigation into the causes of the UK’s geographical inequalities with a view to better informing planning and other policies to address these. UCL’s involvement is important because of the expertise we can bring to this issue, but also because as a world-leading university we should show care for what is happening to the economy and society across the UK, not just in our own backyard."
Lord Kerslake said: "There will always be differences between places. But Britain has some of the most extreme regional disparities in the developed world and these impose great costs on society and handicap our economic performance and productivity. It does not have to be like this - as many other countries demonstrate."
The Commission will work over the next 12 months, delivering a final report in November 2019. Alongside research and papers, the Commission will launch a call for evidence to be received by November 2018.
The Commission’s membership also includes representatives from the CBI, Core Cities, IPPR North, National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), the North West Business Leadership Team, West Midlands Combined Authority and the consultancies AECOM and Barton Willmore.
Dr Lucy Natarajan (UCL Bartlett School of Planning) who is supporting UCL’s contribution to the Commission, said: "The time frame of the Commission’s work - looking to 2070 - is a direct challenge to short-term approaches to decision-making and narrow ways of thinking about ’the public’. In responding to present spatial inequality in the UK, we need to understand shared priorities for the future and the needs of individual places and communities. We are supporting the Commission through our research on how to build knowledge that can help to collectively make choices."