In this special edition of Insights In Focus, Iain Wright, ICAEW’s Managing Director, Reputation & Influence, is joined by Majeed Neky, Head of Policy, Levelling Up Taskforce at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Gill Morris, Chief Executive, Devo Connect and Sarah Longlands, Chief Executive, Centre for Local Economic Strategies.
In the interregnum between Boris Johnson’s resignation speech and a new leader taking over, it’s easy to declare an end to the Conservatives’ flagship Levelling Up policy. But Majeed and Gill are quick to tell Iain how unlikely that is. As Majeed points out: “The diagnosis of the problem is very difficult to argue with, it’s going to be a priority under a government of whatever stripe.”
Regional inequality has been a blight on the UK population and economy for over a century and generations of politicians have struggled with the issue. As the guests point out, the analysis in February’s White Paper comprehensively detailed a lot of the problem. The much harder bit, of course, is solving it. Our guests discuss the importance of devolving decision-making away from Westminster – and why that is likely to continue – the huge role that business, R&D, new jobs and new skills will play in creating a better, more balanced economy and the opportunities that will create across the country. Finally, they outline why chartered accountants have a crucial job to do.
They also discuss the biggest benefits of getting this right: the UK lags behind many of its G7 counterparts on inequality. This is a debilitating state of affairs. In some parts of the country – one of the richest in the world – life expectancy is falling. A baby born in Blackpool tomorrow is not only likely to have a considerably shorter life than a baby born tomorrow in Wokingham, but is also likely to spend twice the amount of its life in ill health. Time for us all to help build a better economy, whatever slogan is attached to it.
Iain Wright, ICAEW’s Managing Director, Reputation & Influence
Episode first published: 22 July 2022
Podcast recorded: 13 July 2022
All views expressed on this podcast are those of the contributors and don’t necessarily reflect those of ICAEW or its members.