Boris Johnson’s government has come under fire for delaying its long-awaited “levelling up” white paper.
Westminster officials pledged to publish its plans for tackling regional inequality across the UK this year but confirmed this week that it would be pushed to January at least.
The delay is a major setback, according to The Equality Trust, which says the UK has “some of the worst regional inequalities in the developed world”.
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Jo Wittams, acting executive director for the trust, told The Big Issue the announcement pushed the country “further away” from lifting deprived parts of the country out of hardship when it is already “near the bottom of the pack” on issues such as income, housing and gender equality.
Children in the north of England were disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, according to University of Manchester research, and could experience life-long effects of pandemic inequality.
These children lost more hours of school time, the report showed, which could result in a £24.6bn loss in wages over the decades to come. The mental health conditions they developed during lockdowns could also cost around £13.2bn in lost earnings over their working lives.