This report from the Commission on Poverty and Regional Inequality sets out the findings of the team's work to unite England’s regions around a shared agenda to reduce poverty and raise living standards.
Working with people living in poverty throughout, the authors aim to understand the problems and to work on solutions together. It focuses on tackling the causes of poverty linked specifically to regional economic failure, from poor job opportunities, to high housing costs.
Our country could be – and should be – a place where everyone has the means to lead a good life, wherever they live.
But we are a long way from realising that ambition. Across the country, our regional economies are failing to provide that good life for many, even in London and the south east.
The Commission on Poverty and Regional Inequality set out to unite England’s regions around a shared agenda to reduce poverty and raise living standards. It focused on tackling the causes of poverty linked specifically to regional economic failure, from poor job opportunities to high housing costs.
Its report concludes that the UK has two major regional economy challenges – ‘low growth’ outside the south east, where places lack good jobs; and ‘overheating’ in the capital, where living costs are too high.
The government should:
- Devolve economic and fiscal power to mayors and councils – make the new ‘trailblazer’ devolution deals the standard across England by 2030; legislate to ringfence a devolved economic development budget; and devolve most economic development delivery by 2035, keeping only broad policy-setting, legislation and universal rights centralised.
- Bring buses under public control – legislate to make the ‘London model’ of bus franchising the law across all of England, putting councils and combined authorities in charge of bus services.
- Devolve jobcentre employment support to councils and mayoral combined authorities – co-commission programmes with councils or combined authorities, create a new ‘CQC-style’ regulator for employment support, reduce sanctions and make jobcentres more supportive; then by 2035, devolve jobcentres, with social security and regulation remaining centralise
- Deliver more affordable housing of all tenures – increase social housebuilding; build mixed tenure communities on well-connected green belt and underutilised land; and turn private rented sector properties into social homes.
- Guarantee affordable childcare in all communities – expand access to free hours of childcare to low-income parents; give councils greater powers and funding to intervene, and eventually directly commission, in local childcare markets; and introduce an affordable childcare scheme for all parents.