Exploring the routes to a fairer economy

Posted on 7 June 2021

In the last 18 months, the phrase ‘levelling up the economy’ has become a ministerial mantra but is it simply a political platitude or a legitimate and achievable aspiration?

York Festival of Ideas presents ‘Levelling up the Economy’ on 16 June when a panel of experts will consider whether ‘levelling up’ is an old idea in new clothes employed by the Government to consolidate the political re-alignment of the 2019 General Election or a radical approach that can banish regional economic inequality in the UK.  They will explore potential solutions to the post-industrial economic imbalance in the UK which has seen the regions increasingly marginalised as London and the South-East have predominated. It is part of a series of Festival Focus events, presented in partnership with the Friends Provident Foundation. They will consider how to create an economy that balances risks and rewards more fairly while ensuring economic growth occurs within global environmental limits.

The series also includes ‘Exploring Doughnut Economics’ on 11 June and ‘Green Growth and Community Wealth Creation’ on 17 June.  The Festival Focus events will examine ways to create financial stability and eliminate wealth inequality as well as discussing how a green recovery could create millions of jobs, promote health and wellbeing and point the way to a fairer, more resilient future.

Speakers include economist Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics; Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation; Rachel Wolf, co-founder of Public First and co-author of the last Conservative election manifesto; Halima Begum, Chief Executive of the Runnymede Trust; Charlie Jeffery, Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, UK; Martin Sandbu, Economics Commentator at the Financial Times; and Per Espen Stoknes, author of Tomorrow's Economy: A Guide to Creating Healthy Green Growth.

Danielle Walker Palmour, Director of the Friends Provident Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Festival of Ideas again this year to explore some of the key economic and social debates of our time as we begin to emerge from Covid-19. It is time to unpack and explore ‘Build Back Better’, ‘Levelling Up’, ‘Community Wealth Building’ and ‘Green Growth’ so that we can decide what economy, society, and the future needs of the planet are.”

Festival Director Joan Concannon said: “The Festival has a long tradition in tackling complex issues and bringing leading thinkers from diverse perspectives of society together to try to identify solutions.

“The intersection between political and economic systems and thinking and our ability to recover from the impacts of Covid-19 are of relevance and importance to everyone. Do we need new thinking and new approaches? What’s the role of education and cities in ‘building back better’? How do we balance economic growth against environmental sustainability? And how do we ensure that those who were most adversely impacted by Covid-19 can benefit from new recovery plans? How do we ensure that recovery provides genuine benefits for everyone? As always, the Festival aims to stimulate debate and discussion.

“We are truly grateful to the Friends Provident Foundation, which has an international reputation for innovative funding and investment practice, for its generous support in presenting this series.”


Further information:

  • Levelling Up the Economy’
  • Led by the University of York, York Festival of Ideas, whose headline sponsor is the Holbeck Charitable Trust, celebrates human ingenuity and imagination, and the power of education and ideas to change lives for the better.  This year it runs from 8-20 June, with a special day of events to celebrate its 10th anniversary on Monday, 7 June.  www.yorkfestivalofideas.com
  • Friends Provident Foundation - Friends Provident Foundation is an independent charity that makes grants and uses its endowment towards a fair, resilient and sustainable economic system that serves people and planet. We connect, fund, support and invest in new thinking to shape a future economy that works for all.