The Equality Trust responds to the Government’s Levelling Up white paper

The government’s newly published Levelling Up white paper sets out its “blueprint for spreading opportunity more equally across the country” by 2030 but continues to leave behind the poorest groups and most deprived areas. 

While the White Paper is riddled with numerous targets and an eight year completion date, it fails to put people at the center of levelling up, emphasising places and productivity rather than people and incomes. With little to no new funding allocated to achieving the ambitious new targets, the government has a long way to go to fulfill its promise of levelling up by 2030. 

The government’s 12 missions place a heavy emphasis on bringing areas across the UK to ‘London levels’, but it’s important to recognise that places like London also have some of the highest levels of child poverty and inequality in the country. It’s not just about levelling up places; it’s also about levelling up people. There is an urgent need to invest substantially in former industrial and mining towns e.g. affordable housing, high paying jobs, primary and secondary schools, training and apprenticeships, better transport and high speed broadband, but we also need a fundamental rethink on how we address UK’s growing inequalities between groups as well as places. 

The hopes of a levelled up UK by 2030 appears less achievable as the agenda does nothing to address long standing structural inequalities within communities.

And with the UK facing a cost of living crisis it is even more important that we recognise that ad hoc schemes and small pots of investment will not ensure that the poorest are not left even further behind. 

Dr Zubaida Haque, Executive Director of The Equality Trust, and Chair of new Structural Inequalities Alliance, said:

“We still don’t know what levelling up means in practice, but we can be fairly certain that it doesn’t mean that the poorest should get poorer – whatever region they live in. The levelling up White Paper unveils targets for 2030 but without the substantial financial investment required (after decades of neglect), these targets are nothing but hope. So much more needs to be done for levelling up to be meaningful – investment in public health, housing, social care, education, jobs, transport and regeneration schemes – and we also need to ensure that we level up people who are being ‘left behind’. You can’t level up places without increasing people’s incomes. And with the UK facing the cost of living crisis, protecting those at the bottom from falling even further behind will be more important than ever”


Notes to editors

1. The Equality Trust is the national registered charity that works to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing social and economic inequalities. For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Jo Wittams,

2. The Structural Inequalities Alliance is Chaired by The Equality Trust: members include the CBI, ProBono Economics, Equally Ours, Women’s Budget Group, UCL Public Policy, the Health Foundation, Centre for Mental Health, independent consultant Sam Smethers, John Ellerman Foundation and many others.