The UK government has released a new Whitepaper that outlines ways to level up the UK, with focus on closing the gap between the UK’s superpower cities and more deprived areas of the UK. The whitepaper includes plans to help cities such as Glasgow to become an Innovation Accelerator, driving employment levels and greatly improving services such as education, transport and broadband. The whitepaper outlines 12 new missions that will drive change within the UK, with the aim to reverse geographical inequalities across the UK, according to IFS in terms of areas within the UK, productivity and earnings in London are as much as a third to a half higher than the average within the UK, with Wales having the lowest productivity and earnings in the UK, being approximately 15% under the UK average, and as low as 40% below London.
This ongoing issue has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, following from many SME closures, therefore lowering living standards with the economy struggling to stay afloat. The whitepaper has been inspired by the success of the vaccine rollout, showing evidence of what we as a country can achieve when we work together. Developed government’s working together to boost innovation across the UK, backed by a share of £100 million of funding will bring new centers for R&D and innovation, that will boost employment and increase opportunities for local people, with plans to combine cutting-edge industry knowledge within a city region full of potential employees.
“It is the most comprehensive, ambitious plan of its kind that this country has ever seen and it will ensure that the government continues to rise to the challenge and deliver for the people of the UK.” – Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Increasing R&D and innovation spending is vital for the UK’s overall growth. Research and development is known to be an integral part of businesses in any sector to beat their competition, gain powerful knowledge and insights, and greatly improve existing processes, also to develop new products and services. Among the 12 central missions within the whitepaper, there are plans outlined to:
- Close the gap between the UK’s best and worse performing cities
- Improving the education attainment gap for children after leaving primary school within the UK’s more deprived communities
- Improve the gap in healthy life expectancy between areas with a higher and lower life expectancy
- Closing gaps in transport and connectivity in the more deprived/remote areas of the UK
The Prime Minister has outlined that he wants every part of the UK to have access to “London-style” powers and a mayor if it is something that they would want, stating that each area would then be able to target spending in a more efficient manner. With the UK being renowned for having one of the world’s most geographically unequal economies, which has declined further in the previous 3 decades. Most of the whitepaper itself applies to just England currently, but the government have insisted that levelling up with UK will be UK-wide effort with hopes to work alongside Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Promises to refocus education spending on areas of the UK that are disadvantaged aim to eliminate illiteracy and innumeracy, creating more opportunities in specialised sectors for those within these areas.
The new innovation blueprint is ambitious, and provides insight into how the UK government will deliver on their plans nation-wide for a projected 40% increase in domestic public investment in research and development outside of the Greater South East of England by 2030. Nationwide gigabit-capable broadband systems and 4G coverage across the whole of the UK is also a paramount priority, and to deliver 5G coverage to most of the population.