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

The Government, today, announced a further delay to its Levelling Up White Paper, now due to be released in January 2022. It is clear the commitment from the Government to address regional inequality and to level up the UK has fallen short over the last year. A second push back to the release of their white paper demonstrates their lack of commitment to reducing inequality.

The UK remains one of the most unequal countries in the OECD and continues to fall short on a great number of inequality indicators. We have one of the highest levels of regional inequality, alongside coming near the bottom of the pack on a variety of measures including income, housing and gender equality.

Levelling Up is often framed as in terms of the North-South divide alone, ignoring more severe inequalities within regions, resulting in London – the region of the UK with the largest internal inequalities – being left out of the conversation completely. It is essential that the Government takes into account the scale of what needs to be done to address the structural issues underlying the UK’s unequal economy. The promise to ‘Level Up’ remains empty without a clear and tangible plan for action. Concern with equalities of all kinds needs to be embedded across departments through a comprehensive inequality reduction strategy, setting out key milestones and action plans.

Dr Fran Darlington-Pollock, Chair of The Equality Trust, comments, “A delay to the release of this White Paper pushes us further away from tackling widening inequality in the country. Without a clear plan thousands across the country are left to face the devastating impacts widening inequality has on their health and livelihood. The Government must act on their promise to level up the UK now. To honour their commitment, the Government can start by supporting the commencement of legislation that already exists. We must commence the Socio-economic Duty, and develop a strong strategy to tackle inequality across the country.”


Notes to editors

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2. The Equality Trust is the national charity that campaigns to improve quality of life in the UK by reducing economic and social inequality. The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world and evidence shows that in countries with higher levels of inequality, we see higher rates of mental and physical ill health, higher rates of imprisonment and violent crime, worse educational outcomes and lower levels of trust. Inequality is not inevitable.