Prosperity UK is a broad-ranging and ambitious project that aims to use the unique position in which the UK finds itself to challenge the status quo and generate new ideas to heal Britain’s many divisions. Based on both a thorough understanding of the daily challenges people face and a vision of a truly prosperous nation, we will produce practical solutions to help more people to enjoy prosperity in its broadest sense.
Far from simply being a plebiscite on EU membership, the referendum provided an unprecedented x-ray of the health of British society. What it revealed was deeply troubling. The Legatum Institute's joint report with the Centre for Social Justice, 48:52, Healing a Divided Britain, found that the vote to Leave represented a heartfelt cry from those who wanted to change the economic, political and social status quo. Disproportionately likely to be older, poorer, less well educated and to live in less prosperous areas, these voters feel that, in the Prime Minister’s words, the country does not work for them.
Policy-makers’ attentions have subsequently shifted to the high politics of Brexit, free trade deals and the nature of Britain’s role in the world. The Legatum Institute’s 'Prosperity UK' project plots a different course. It will take advantage of the once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink public policy, firing a programme of domestic social reform that will target that broad group of people who have not shared in the UK’s growing prosperity.
Prosperity UK will first seek to investigate, with humility and compassion, the complex web of hidden sentiments that underpinned the vote to Leave. While our relationship with the world must be redefined, it is also clear that Britons’ relationships with one another need to be built anew too. Only by taking the time to understand the nature of the divisions in British society can we hope to heal them.
Having listened and understood, we will seek to envision, in Winston Churchill’s famous words, “the broad, sunlit uplands” of a truly prosperous Britain. Finally, we will commission a broad mix of policymakers to design new ideas to help politicians and leaders of every kind to create a country where everyone can enjoy prosperity.
Phase 1: Listen and Understand
The first phase of the research will seek to understand where we are as a country. Using a range of research methods, including polling surveys, analysis of the British Household Panel, case studies, social media analysis, film and photography, and other techniques, we will build up a picture of low prosperity Britain.
As well as seeking to uncover the features of the least prosperous cross-cutting demographic strata of British society, we will focus on 10-12 areas which, according to Legatum Institute’s UK Prosperity Index, experience both low prosperity—broadly defined to include wealth and wellbeing—and had a high propensity to vote to Leave the EU. These areas will be spread across the four countries of the United Kingdom.
Phase 2: Envision
Having established the nature of the challenges we face, the second phase of the project will seek to envision where we want to be: what does a truly prosperous Britain look like? While we are sceptical of utopias, it is essential that ordinary people’s own hopes and dreams—rather than the pre-held views of political, economic and social elites—are the starting point for reform.
Phase 3: Create
Having established both our starting point and our destination, we then need to work out how to move from one to the other. To achieve this, we will establish six policy review groups, co-chaired by a mix of politicians and policy-makers, to generate ideas that will enable people to move into prosperity. The groups will cover the broad sweep of domestic policy issues.
- May’s 48/52 challenge, by Lord O'Shaughnessy and Baroness Stroud, ConservativeHome [View]