Tackling Structural Inequalities in the UK

During a WIG webinar on structural inequalities, you posed some of your questions to Siobhan Morris, Coordinator of the Grand Challenge of Justice & Equality at University College London, and Matthew Whittaker, Chief Executive at Pro Bono Economics.

Answering in written form, Siobhan and Matt have shared their insight into how we can plug the gaps in our collective understanding to better address the structrual inequalities embedded in our society, with reference to the UCL and Resolution Foundation report 'Structurally unsound'.

In terms of the organisations you consulted with to produce the document, which organisations represented BAME communities?

Primarily Runnymede, Operation Black Vote, Race Disparity Unit, amongst others.

Have you done any work with the Ministry of Justice and the HMPPS to include the specific problems of the offender population?

As part of the project we conducted an in-depth interview with Prisoners’ Education Trust. In addition, MoJ contacted UCL’s Grand Challenge of Justice & Equality after the report was launched to arrange a discussion on this work. This was due to take place in March but had to be postponed due to COVID-19.

Who do you mean by policy makers?

Primarily those working at different layers of government (local and national) and with different levels of responsibility (politicians, advisors, civil servants). But the discussion stretches out to members of the policy community more generally, including those in think tanks, academia and business who seek to inform and influence policy debate.

The research Siobhan mentioned into what does wellbeing mean to real people sounds fascinating. Where can we find out about it?

The Prosperity Index for London work can be accessed here: https://londonprosperityboard.org/london-prosperity-index-home

A big focus lately has been the divide between London and the rest of the country. How do we tackle these structural inequalities when many of the bodies (and not just government) addressing these are overwhelmingly based in London / other capital cities?

This is a key ‘structural’ element that needs rethinking. It’s not the case that inclusive decisions can’t be made in London, but it is the case that the concentration of policy making in the capital limits our sight of what’s needed in different parts of the country. Just as we need to bring more diverse voices into the research and policy community in order to change who designs Britain, we also need to spread influence outside London. That factor should be a central part of the government’s ambitions for levelling up – not just a focus on improving economic growth outside the capital.

WIG members can watch Siobhan's and Matt's presentation, read our report on the webinar, and watch other webinar recordings in our resource library.


  • Siobhan Morris


    UCL Grand Challenge of Justice and Equality

    Siobhan Morris is lead author of the UCL-Resolution Foundation report ‘Structurally Unsound’ and leads UCLs Grand Challenge of Justice and Equality, working with academics and external partners to facilitate research and collaborations. Siobhan has published widely on structural and relational inequalities. 

  • Matthew Whittaker

    Chief Executive Officer

    Pro Bono Economics

    Matt is chief executive at Pro Bono Economics, a charity that connects volunteer economists to other charities in order to help them run economic evaluations of their various programmes. He joined in November 2019, having spent the previous 11 years at the Resolution Foundation think tank. He had overall responsibility for the organisation’s research output, and was a leading expert in his own right on the subject of income inequality. He has worked across a number of areas related to UK living standards, with his extensive body of written work and regular media contributions covering the labour market, the tax and benefit system, housing, consumer debt, public finances, and the macroeconomy. He was co-chair of the 2019 ‘Exploring Inequalities’ project run by the Resolution Foundation and UCL, which took a multi-disciplinary approach to digging into the nature of – and intersections between – different types of structural inequality.