’Levelling up will only be achieved with transformational changes to improve child poverty’

Media alert from Professor of Education and Political Economy in the Department of Education, Hugh Lauder.

  • Last updated on Tuesday 26 October 2021

The government’s ambition to ’level up’ the country must focus on the long-term and dire consequences of child poverty, says leading academic Professor Hugh Lauder.

Professor Lauder, of the University of Bath’s Department of Education , a former teacher and specialist in the labour market, argues that policies designed to advance the latest government mantra must seek to tackle child poverty, which holds so many young people back.

According to the child poverty action group, between 2019-20 there were 4.3 million children living in poverty in the UK (31% of children or nine in every class of 30). Nearly half (49%) of children living in lone-parent families are in poverty and children from black and minority ethnic groups are most likely to be in poverty.

Professor Lauder explains: "Levelling up has become the new government buzzword, but most attention to date has focused on the north-south divide. This overlooks a truly significant and deeply troubling chasm in society, evident in every town and city, that of child poverty.

"If the government’s ambition to level-up is to be realised, then we must look beyond regional disparities to issues of child poverty, developing innovative policies that begin to tackle its root causes. It is simply unacceptable that in 2021 our life chances are still determined so starkly by the conditions we are faced with from birth."

Professor Lauder argues that the levelling up agenda must focus on more effective social security policies in addition to free, early years education pre-school to enable struggling family members to work.

Read Hugh's latest IPR blog 'Child poverty and its effects on education' .