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Regional inequalities can be measured through a variety of different metrics, and several studies show that the inequalities within regions can be just as profound as those between different regions. In the UK, marked differences in economic performance, productivity, employment rates, and household income and poverty can be observed across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and between regions in those nations. When compared with other nations internationally, a recent Institute of Fiscal Studies study ranked the UK as the country with the greatest regional inequality of the 27 countries it examined.

The Government has committed to tackling regional inequality and to supporting disadvantaged or ‘left-behind’ communities through its ‘levelling-up’ agenda. It has announced a range of policy measures and funding to support this aim. They include, for example, the levelling-up fund, the community renewal and shared prosperity funds, town funds and county deals, and increased infrastructure and transport investment.

However, the Government has been criticised for a lack of coordination between these initiatives and accused of a lack of clarity about how it will deliver success. These criticisms have been particularly acute in the absence of a promised white paper on levelling up, due by the end of this year, which committees in both Houses have said should be published urgently. Of the funding announcements that have been made, the Government has also faced accusations from the Labour Party that it has prioritised areas based on flawed calculationsand according to political considerationsrather than measures such as deprivation and focusing investment on the poorest areas.

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