UK Prosperity Index 2022

The Index measures institutional, economic, and social wellbeing across the UK’s 374 local authorities

A report for the Centre for UK Prosperity programme by Daniel Herring

Published 12 Oct 2022

A tool for transformation to help ‘level-up’ the country

As well as the full UK Prosperity Index 2022 report you can also download detailed datasheets for each of the UK’s regions and 374 local authorities here.

When the UK Prosperity Index was conceived in late 2019, the UK was looking at a new decade with optimism. We had a new Prime Minister, the Brexit deal was finally sealed, and the Government was setting itself the ambitious task of ‘Levelling Up’ the country. This was a moment of opportunity calling for visionary leadership to carry the country forwards into a new era, and his administration has ended in disappointment.

However, while the Johnson era is over, the levelling up mission remains critical for the Liz Truss government. This Index was designed to provide definition for the Levelling Up agenda, to give greater understanding of the nature of the challenges and strengths of regions across the UK, and as a yardstick for measuring success. It has been created to hold the government accountable to the commitments in the manifesto to ‘level up’ the country.

Three years on and this report shows that sadly we are declining in more areas than we are levelling up. There is little evidence that the current government has made meaningful progress in reversing these trends.

  • While 26 elements have improved overall, only 11 of the 53 elements have “levelled up” (where improvements have coincided with convergence between the lowest prosperity and highest prosperity) over 10 years.
  • In contrast, 24 elements have declined overall. Four elements have seen decline and divergence: Terrorism, Government Integrity, Business Environment, and Behavioural and Psychological Risk Factors.

The new administration must take the hard choices necessary to kickstart stagnating productivity and address widespread disparities, from healthcare to social capital. Furthermore, context specific strategies are needed that account for specific regional strengths and challenges across the UK. Each sector of society must be released to play its part. The Government must remove barriers for business through planning reform, and by rationalising regulations. Power should be devolved to local authorities and civil society leaders must be empowered, inspired and released to help shift mindsets in regions across the UK.

We need a major step change if the Government is to succeed in shifting the dial. This year is a critical one in the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda. As the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill comes into law and the White Paper starts to be put into practice, this is the moment when key decisions about what Levelling Up will mean are decided and put into operation. Rhetoric must be turned into action.

Five further steps are needed:

  1. Inclusive societies: We must rebuild trust in institutions and restore social capital after the coronavirus pandemic
  2. Open Economies: The Government must take the hard choices necessary to kickstart Britain’s stagnating economy. Businesses must respond by investing in increasing productivity.
  3. Empowered People: Government, communities and families must focus on helping people to lead healthier lives.
  4. Levelling up strategies: We must move beyond the concept of one ‘levelling up strategy’ to context-specific ‘levelling up strategies’ that provide bespoke solutions for diverse regions.
  5. Everyone has a role to play: We must recognise that everyone has a role if there is any hope of levelling up the country. The government must create an enabling environment for civil society, local authorities and businesses in left-behind regions.

The UK Prosperity Index is a tool to better map and monitor the pathways to prosperity for all regions and local authorities of the UK. It includes detailed data on levels of institutional, economic, and social wellbeing across the 374 boroughs, council areas, local government districts, and unitary and local authorities that encompass the four nations of the UK. The Index is specifically designed to be a transformational tool that allows citizens, local authorities, regions, and government to sharpen their understanding of what is working, track their progress over time, and hold leaders to account.

We believe it is the most ambitious and comprehensive index of its kind to date. However, no index is perfect and we are always looking to improve the UK Prosperity Index. You can help us improve our data by sending suggestions to ukprosperity@li.com.

Watch a video from our launch event, with our guest speaker Sajid Javid.

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UK Prosperity Index 2022:

A tool for transformation to help ‘level-up’ the country

By Daniel Herring

Oct 2022

Download the reportPDF