The devastating economic effects of the pandemic have only served to aggravate existing inequalities that hold the people of our region back and place obstacles in the way of generations growing up achieving the potential that their talents deserve.
How serious those obstacles are is illustrated by today’s report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which concludes that people’s chances in life are increasingly determined by the inheritances they receive from parents.
Or in other words, those with wealthy parents are much more likely to fare better than the less affluent.
This is a regrettable and disheartening state of affairs in a 21st century Britain in which everybody should have an equal chance of succeeding, irrespective of background. Indeed, the notion that parents’ wealth should be a determining factor in doing well would seem to belong to the Victorian era, rather than our own.
Yet it is a fact, and the seriousness of its consequences cannot be overstated. It is a drag on a generation’s prospects, and potentially harmful to their health as well as general prosperity.
Our region cannot hope to achieve all it is capable of if there is a brake on social mobility.
The IFS is correct to warn that this state of affairs will only widen the gap between rich and poor.
Equally, it is right to conclude that there is a pressing need to kick-start income growth for young people if that gap is to be closed.
Once again, the necessity of the Government levelling up the economy has been underlined.