National Productivity Week 27th November 2023 | Visit Website

A diverse community of
leading experts, policymakers
and practitioners

The Institute’s key research themes
are led by ten academic partners
spread across the UK.

Businesses are crucial to solving
the UK’s productivity problems.

We’re a UK-wide research
organisation exploring what
productivity means for business

Businesses are crucial to solving
the UK’s productivity problems.

Regional inequalities are a national problem


The UK has some of the highest regional inequalities of any advanced country and is one of the most centralised countries in the industrialised world. The latest strategy to tackle regional inequality began in 2019, with a pledge to “level up” the UK.

A subsequent White Paper focused on reducing regional inequalities to drive productivity and growth across the whole UK, proposing a “revolution in local democracy” as a solution. However, the scale of the challenge to revolutionise the constitutional and economic models away from the centralised Westminster system of government is considerable.

Some of the structural factors contributing to UK regional inequality include over-centralisation; weak, ineffective institutions and policy churn; institution and policy silos; short-termism and poor-quality policy co-ordination. A stable institutional landscape; a clear devolution and decentralisation strategy; and coordination between institutions at all levels can help as well as learning lessons from past initiatives.

Regional inequalities are a national problem for the UK. While London and the South East need to continue to strengthen as a globally competitive region, the UK also needs to tackle persistent regional inequalities. If a very large part of the country is economically weak, it offsets any gains made elsewhere.

Regional inequality is a focus of The Productivity Institute, with numerous research projects addressing the different problems, causes and solutions and works closely with its eight regional productivity forums covering all of England’s regions and the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Supported by University of Glasgow

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London and the South

Supported by King's College London

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Yorks, Humber & North East

Supported by University of Sheffield

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Supported by University of Warwick

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North West

Supported by University of Manchester

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Supported by Cardiff University

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Northern Ireland

Supported by Queen's University Belfast

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East Anglia

Supported by University of Cambridge

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Regional Forums

The forums are involved in the implementation of research insights, the design of practical business and policy interventions, and in providing input to the development of the Institute’s future research agenda.

Members include stakeholders from policy, community and business leaders from local, national and multinational enterprises. Each Productivity Forum is chaired by a regional business leader and supported by a Forum Lead from each of the partner universities.