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Levelling up the economy: we can't afford not to

This first briefing in JRF's economic discussion series - Shaping a recovery that reduces poverty - explains why we need to tackle productivity and living standards to keep people afloat.

Date published:

As we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘levelling up’ the economy to create opportunities for everyone across the county will still be our greatest national challenge, and more important than ever. This briefing explains that levelling up needs to tackle the twin challenges of productivity and living standards.


To tackle these challenges, the levelling-up agenda should embed four key principles:

  • Take action now to stop the levelling-up challenge becoming even harder. The next stage of economic support needs to focus on maintaining spending power and focusing job creation in our weakest economies most likely to see a rise in the unemployment rate as the furlough scheme is wound down.
  • Increase the scale of investment in basic, digital and vocational skills to match the ambitious investments in infrastructure.
  • Increase the share of planned capital investment that will be invested in local public transport systems and lever this infrastructure investment to unlock opportunities for people trapped in poverty.
  • Improve productivity in low-wage, low-productivity businesses and sectors by improving the quality of work, boosting in-work training and enhancing management practices.