Reducing the economic and social inequalities between different areas, or ‘levelling up’, was meant to be the big idea when the Conservatives were elected in 2019. Making it happen has been more difficult. The UK is on course to become the most unequal country of the world’s seven richest nations by 2027.
Labour needs to produce some long-term solutions that change the culture around redistribution and inequality in this country. One of these solutions is a Ministry of Poverty, as argued for by John Bird in The Big Issue recently.
The case for a Ministry of Poverty was included in the report ‘How can Labour level up?’ released by the Centre for Inequality and Levelling Up (CEILUP) at the University of West London. Here are seven more ideas from the report below.
1. Investing in early years
Inequality begins from birth. Disadvantaged children four to five years of age in England are on average 4.6 months behind their better-off peers. A reboot of the successful Sure Start programme which Labour funded when it was last in government is required. Sure Start centres offered health, parenting support, childcare, and parental employment services to families with children under five. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Sure Start was still having positive effects on 15-year-olds in 2021, two decades after the programme began.
2. Increasing university participation
Universities have provided life-changing opportunities for thousands of working-class people over the last 30 years, but we still see those at the top using their background to protect privilege. This ‘opportunity hoarding’ as Professor Peter John CBE, vice chancellor of the University of West London describes it in our report, will be re-enforced if Labour follows the present government’s plans to restrict access to university. The evidence shows the economy needs more graduates and Labour needs to enable all those who wish to benefit from higher education.
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