1. ITV Report

Report says Government must "go big or go home" to address widening inequality

Government intervention on the scale of HS2 is needed to address the widening gaps between the richest and poorest parts of the UK, a report published in Salford today claims.

The UK2070 Commission said regional inequalities were "serious" and growing, with the UK home to some of the richest and poorest regions in Europe.

Its report said the UK must adjust to life beyond Brexit and the impacts of climate change over the next decade, warning that a "business as usual" attitude will lead to further decline and division.

Commission chairman Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, said the Government now needs to "go big or go home" on its promises to "level up" Britain, claiming that only a large-scale and long-term approach will address the issue.

"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."

– Lord Kerslake

The commission carried out an 18-month study into regional inequality, claiming the UK is now the most unequal large country in the developed world.

It found that between 2007 and 2017, London's economy grew by 6.75% - almost twice the UK average rate - compared with the Northern Powerhouse regions, which grew by 0.72%.

There was also an increase of 1.27 million more jobs in London and the South East, compared with 330,000 in the north.

The Northern Powerhouse covers areas including Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, North Wales, Sheffield, North Yorkshire and the North East.

The commission's report calls for:

  • - The devolution of powers and resources from central government to local communities.
  • - Better transport connectivity within cities and to poorly connected towns, with infrastructure investment increasing to at least 3% of GDP per year.
  • - Tripling the new Shared Prosperity Fund - the post-Brexit successor to EU funding - to #15 billion per year for 20 years, an increase of #200 billion over what is already planned.
  • - Creating new "Networks of Excellence" in regional research and development, similar to those in London, Oxford and Cambridge.