UK spending in most deprived areas fell by 31% over last decade

UK spending deprived areas, levelling up
© Monkey Business Images

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) finds that between 2010 and 2020, UK spending for the most deprived areas fell by 31% per person

The Levelling Up policy, which was announced to be implemented in 2019, has been pushed back year on year. The policy is understood to be a way to correct disparities between London and the rest of the country, encompassing everything from health to education.

The White Paper, due to be announced in January, 2022, should explain the funding and exact changes to be made. Today (2 February), the UK Government published a press release detailing 12 general promises.

The new levelling-up agenda includes:

  • A proposed raise in life expectancy by five years, by 2035
  • 5G coverage for the majority of the population
  • A devolution deal for every part of England “that wants one”
  • 90% of primary school children achieving expected education targets

According to an analysis which proposes changes for Levelling Up, non-education related spending fell by 31% per resident. This figure is almost double the cut experienced in the most affluent areas – with residents in those places experiencing just a 16% cut in funding.

Then when it comes to education, funding per pupil for the fifth of schools with the highest levels of deprivation fell significantly. While pre-2010 saw a substantial amount of funding for these children, the early 2010s saw that amount drop by 12%.

Nigel Wilcock, Executive Director of the Institute of Economic Development, said: “One thing for sure is Levelling Up has become a serious matter. Socially, because without action the burden of intervention to deal with those left behind will continue to grow at an accelerating rate and the widening inequality will eat away at the fabric of society – with resentment feeding both sides.”

“Regional inequalities have persisted for decades”

Paul Johnson, IFS director, said: “Regional inequalities in incomes, wealth, health and education have persisted for decades. There are far more graduates in places like London and the South East where opportunities for high skilled, well paying jobs are much more plentiful than in other regions.

“Levelling up economic outcomes between places must mean getting high paid jobs more evenly spread – much easier said than done.”

The IFS suggest that education attainment should be at the forefront of considerations in the white paper, with examination of how jobs and amenities that encourage highly skilled people to stay in or move to an area can be spread across the UK – as opposed to hyper-focused in London.

The think tank also say that tax and spending policy should be reassessed, making sure that formulas of spending target the most deprived areas in the UK.

The authors of the analysis further commented: “The role of broader tax, public spending and public services policy should not be forgotten. Public services matter for people’s outcomes, and in recent years the way funding has been allocated to different places has often worked against ‘levelling up’.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here