The panellists discussed the path from poverty to prosperity in the UK and abroad. Seema Malhotra discussed her constituency’s work in local schools to improve retention and graduation rates amongst the least advantaged students. Louise Haigh noted the impact of government cuts across local programmes in her constituency, including the improvement of library services upon turnover to local volunteers. Julia Unwin outlined the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s poverty alleviation work across Britain, and the importance of focusing on the relief of poverty rather than income equality.

Speakers included Seema Malhotra, former Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and MP for Feltham and Heston; Julia Unwin CBE, Chief Executive, Joseph Rowntree Foundation; Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley; and Shanker Singham, Director of Economic Policy and Prosperity Studies, Legatum Institute.



About the Speakers

Seema Malhotra is MP for Feltham and Heston and until recently was Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Previously, she was the first Shadow Home Office Minister for Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls, having been elected Labour and Co-operative MP for Feltham and Heston in December 2011. Seema campaigns for small businesses, women and enterprise, to tackle unemployment, and on civic engagement. She also chaired the Parliamentary Labour Party Business Interest Group from 2012-2014. Prior to entering Parliament, Seema worked as a freelance business and public service adviser in the video game and film industries. She has more than ten years’ experience with leading firms Accenture and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, where she worked in strategy and IT systems development. Seema has worked across Whitehall with justice agencies and creative industries.

Julia Unwin is Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust. She was a member of the Housing Corporation Board for 10 years and a Charity Commissioner from 1998-2003. Julia was also Deputy Chair of the Food Standards Agency and worked as an independent consultant, for 15 years, operating within government and the voluntary and corporate sectors. She has researched and written extensively on issues relating to philanthropy, the voluntary sector, and its relationship with government and has written several books, the most recent of which is entitled “Why Fight Poverty?” which was published in November 2013. She previously held a position as chair of the Refugee Council from 1995 until 1998, and is currently a member of the University of York’s Council and a Governor of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.  In 2010 Julia was awarded the Outstanding Leadership Award in the Charity Awards and was awarded a Fellowship of the City and Guilds of London Institute in June 2012. Julia chairs the Institute for Social Renewal advisory board at the University of Newcastle, is a member of the Council of the University of York, as well as being a member of the Advisory Board for Policy Scotland, at the University of Glasgow. In January 2016 Julia was appointed as an independent Non-Executive Director of Mears Group Plc. She has Honorary Doctorates from the University of South Wales and from York St John University.

Louise Haigh was elected in May 2015 as the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley. In September 2015 Louise was promoted to the position of Shadow Minister for Civil Service and Digital Reform in the Cabinet Office by the Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. Louise started her working life in Sheffield as a local call centre worker, before going on to study at the University of Nottingham where she worked for the Local Authority's Youth Service, helping train youth workers on issues such as teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol misuse and child protection. She later worked in Westminster where she took up Coalfield issues for communities decimated by the Tory government of the 1980s, supported a Shadow Minister to raise problems in our child protection system and ran an inquiry into young people, education and care. Since then she has worked for Aviva, responsible for corporate governance and responsible investment policy, working to make corporations more accountable to the public.

Shanker Singham leads the Legatum Institute’s Economics of Prosperity work which examines how countries can become more productive, and the role free trade—with open, competitive markets—plays in helping people of all incomes increase their prosperity. Previously, Shanker was head of market access at Squire Sanders and Managing Director of the Competitiveness and Enterprise Cities project at Babson Global. Currently, he is the CEO of Competere. Shanker has worked with governments and companies around the world on market opening and transition issues, including on the early privatisations of the UK electricity market, the former Soviet Union, the accession of Poland and Hungary to the EU, the transitions in Latin America after the apertura and the WTO accessions of a number of countries, including China and Russia. In 1997, Shanker founded the International Roundtable on Trade and Competition as a way of promoting the notion of free trade, competitive markets and property rights protection around the world. A cleared advisor to the United States government on trade issues, he is also Non-Government Adviser to the International Competition Network. Shanker has also been a senior trade and economics adviser to a number of political candidates including Democratic Governors Lawton Chiles and Buddy McKay of Florida as well as Governor Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

Giles Dilnot joined the Legatum Institute as Director of Communications in August 2016. Previously, Giles spent 12 years as a reporter and co-presenter for BBC Two's Daily Politics programme, where he presented topical reports and interviews with members of the public as well as co-hosting several editions of the show. He also had presenting slots on BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 5 Live, and produced several documentaries for BBC Radio 4 including Power of the Whips: The Silent Enforcers. Giles has a BA (Hons) in History.


  • From Poverty to Prosperity, Report, August 2016 [View]