Wednesday 2 June 2021


Call for papers or presentations


The Government is committed to ‘levelling-up’ the UK, by tackling inequality and disadvantage between regions and within them.

The University of London and its member institutions are working with the Mayor of London to organise a series of roundtables, to be held in September 2021, on how we can best ensure that levelling-up works for the whole country, including London.

We would like to invite academic researchers in London and beyond to submit ideas for short papers and presentations.


‘Levelling-up’ is an important part of the Government agenda. The government is planning a LevellingUp White Paper for the autumn, which will be delivered by a new Unit in the Cabinet Office overseen by Neil O’Brien MP, ‘Levelling-up Advisor’.

There is nothing inherently unwelcome in this for London. After all, our capital is one of the most unequal regions of the UK, with very high levels of poverty. All three of London’s Mayors have been elected on a promise to level-up the poorest neighbourhoods and communities in the city, even if they don’t use that precise phrase.

It’s true that much of the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda is focused on narrowing regional inequalities.

But even this could well be a promising agenda, from a London point of view.

  • London could benefit if under-performing parts of the country were to become more productive, in part by taking some of the population, tax and other pressures off the capital and in part by providing it with new markets for its goods and services.
  • London could stand to gain from the new wave of devolution and increased public sector investment that the government has said will be a core component of ‘levelling-up’.
  • Continued support for London’s economy could be understood as a way of ‘paying for’ investment in left behind places – London and the South East are the only two regions to make a positive contribution to government budgets.
  • Less advantaged Londoners could benefit from policies to narrow inequalities. Yet there are still risks if the perception of London’s wealth and prosperity leads to London missing out on government funding, investment or further devolution.

Roundtables and publication

The Mayor would like to work with London’s academic research community, and researchers from other regions, to develop new thinking on what a positive levelling-up agenda would look like for London and the rest of the country.

As a first step we are proposing to organise two or three roundtables and are inviting academics from within London and beyond to contribute presentations. The roundtables will then form the basis for publishing a series of online papers or blogs or online collection. They will also provide an evidence base for Mayoral policy and for submissions to government consultations, including on the LevellingUp White Paper.

Key Questions

We are looking first and foremost for papers and presentations aimed at informing and influencing policy making, at both the London and national level, including submissions that are relatively broad in focus and clearly and accessibly presented. We are particularly interested in contributions on the following themes:

  1. How have economic and other relations between London and South East regions and other regions and nations developed and what are the similarities and differences now?
  2. What policies could best harness London’s unique strengths as a global capital in helping the levelling-up of London and the rest of the UK.
  3. How have patterns of poverty, exclusion and inequality developed across different regions and nations?
  4. How do we understand the relations between levelling up between London and other regions, and levelling up within London?
  5. To what extent is it true that London could benefit from stronger regional economies in other parts of the country, and in what ways?
  6. How can London’s anchor institutions such as leading international universities, housing associations and transport providers use their purchasing power and recruitment to invest in wider UK regions as well as reducing inequality within London.
  7. The London and South East are often presented as a successful mega-region, but it is also an unequal one with poor communities both in the capital and beyond. What do we know about ‘left behind’ communities across the South East? What sort of approaches and policies would be most effective in levelling up the region?
  8. The Government says that it sees devolution as a core element of levelling up. What should London’s priorities be for devolution?
  9. What role could housing reform play in levelling up different regions and communities? What framework and funding can best address the apparently very different housing challenges across the regions?

We welcome proposals for short papers and/or presentations from academic researchers from London and beyond and from individual and joint authors.


Deadline for Submissions: 18.00hrs, 7 July 2021

Roundtables: two or three in September 2021

Publication(s): October

Submitting your proposal

lease send a short (500 word maximum) outline of your proposed paper or presentation, clearly setting out the questions you are proposing to address, the sources of the evidence and analysis you propose to use and how it might help inform policymaking. Please also include a links or references to examples of your work relevant to your proposal.

The deadline for submissions is 18.00hrs, 7 July 2021

Please submit proposals to:

If you have any questions or would like to discuss a proposal please contact Ben Rogers, details below.

Ben Rogers
Professor of Practice – London
University of London