Inquiry to launch as UK enters decade of economic uncertainty and risk

A report to herald a three year project to explore the impact of economic change in the UK has concluded it faces a decade of uncertainty.

A ground-breaking new collaboration between the Resolution Foundation and the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics (LSE), supported by a £1.8 million grant from the Nuffield Foundation warns the 2020s will see the UK experience unprecedented economic change. That change will be driven by the triple shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and the transition to a Net Zero future, but warns the country lacks a plan to successfully navigate the decade ahead.

The report has been launched ahead of the Economy 2030 Inquiry, a three-year project to explore the nature of economic change that the UK is living through and start a national conversation about what this means for people, places and firms.

It will then set out a framework for successfully navigating the challenges and opportunities these changes will bring, with proposals for economic reform to drive strong, sustainable growth, and significant improvements to people’s living standards and well-being.

The backdrop to the Inquiry is a decade bookended by two “once-in-a-generation” economic crises, a slump in productivity and stagnating living standards.

Torsten Bell, Chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation, said: “As vaccines are rolled out, debates are turning to how to recover well from Covid-19 and the deepest downturn for 300 years it created. While crucial, this is only part of the task ahead of us. The UK is poised for a decade of unprecedented economic change as it not only emerges from the pandemic, but also finds its post-Brexit place in the world and ramps up its zero-carbon transition.

“Together with technological and demographic change, these shifts pose fundamental questions about our economy at a time when the country lacks a clear sense of its path to prosperity. Successfully navigating the 2020s requires both a better understanding of what the country is going through, and a proper plan to shape the UK’s economic future. These are the tasks the Economy 2030 Inquiry will address.”

The report explained while the immediate focus is understandably on the nature of the recovery from Covid-19, the reshaping of the UK’s economy will if anything be more lastingly driven by our emergence from the EU, transitions towards a Net Zero future, predictable demographic shifts, and unpredictable technological change.

The Economy 2030 Inquiry will be formally launched with a major new report and event on 18 May.

The work of the Inquiry will be carried out by researchers at the Resolution Foundation and the LSE, with the support of an advisory board. It will include a major work programme examining the lived experience of the UK economy from the perspective of workers, consumers and citizens. A final report will be delivered in Summer 2023.

Stephen Machin, Director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the LSE, added: “The current crisis has acted to magnify pre-existing economic and social inequalities. The Inquiry will examine how best to create a future that is fair and inclusive, proposing solutions which will help us meet the significant challenges ahead. As we rebuild the world, we need to rethink how to make the economy work better for all.”