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Dr Neil Lee

Dr Neil Lee

Head of the socio-economic centre


Telephone: 020 7976 3611

Neil is head of the Socio-Economic Centre at The Work Foundation. His team investigate labour markets, cities and enterprise.
He currently runs three major research projects for The Work Foundation; the Missing Million on the challenge of youth unemployment, Cities 2020, which investigates how cities can drive economic growth in the changing economy, and the Bottom Ten Million research programme, which focuses on in-work poverty and the geography of unemployment.

Neil’s recent research has included research on long-term youth unemployment, a paper for NESTA on the obstacles faced by potential high-growth firms and research on the geography of economic recovery. His research interests include labour markets, innovation and cities. He has published widely on issues around innovation and inequality, unemployment in the recession and the role of the creative industries in economic growth. His academic publications are listed here.

He has a PhD in Economic Geography and Spatial Economics and MSc’s in Local Economic Development and Quantitative Research from the London School of Economics, and a first-class degree in geography from University College London. He is a research affiliate of the Technological Change Lab (TCLab) at Columbia University, New York.

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Related Reports

The Gender Jobs Split: How young men and women experience the labour market
This Touchstone Extra considers how the pathways into work for young people vary by gender.

Ian Brinkley, Katy Jones and Neil Lee
01 November 2013

Inequality and Employment Polarisation in British cities
Wage inequality and employment polarisation – where employment is increasingly divided into high- and low-skilled jobs – are seen as important social problems, which a number of cities have attempted to address at a local level. This study investigates the geography of wage inequality and employment polarisation in British cities, their determinants and implications.

Dr Neil Lee, Dr Paul Sissons and Katy Jones
07 May 2013

Initial Findings: Wage inequality and employment polarisation in British cities

Dr Neil Lee, Dr Paul Sissons and Katy Jones
06 May 2013

Short-term crisis - long-term problem? Addressing the youth employment challenge
Over one million young people are out of work in the UK. This report illuminates the problem presented by the 264,000 young people in this country who have been unemployed for 12 months or more.

Neil Lee, Paul Sissons, Brhmie Balaram and Katy Jones
18 June 2012

Off the Map? The geography of NEETs
Launched as part of a research partnership with the Private Equity Foundation, this report examines NEET rates for 16 – 24 year olds across Great Britain.

Neil Lee and Jonathan Wright
01 November 2011

Related Blogs

Mapping inequality in the UK labour market
Dr Neil Lee presents a summary of the findings from the latest report into wage inequality and employment polarisation in British cities.

Dr Neil Lee
07 May 2013

Budget reaction on local growth: Some significant measures but major stumbling blocks ahead
Lord Heseltine’s review promised to leave ‘no stone unturned’ in pursuit of growth - but under every stone there are some nasty bugs.

Dr Neil Lee
20 March 2013

Census 2011: Skills are moving south
New evidence from the 2011 Census data on the geography of skills concerning. Better qualified people tend to earn more, so the geography of skilled workers is one of the main drivers of regional disparities.

Dr Neil Lee
01 February 2013

Work & Pensions Committee report is a welcome challenge to government on youth unemployment
The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee today released their report into the Youth Contract – the government’s flagship programme to address the problem of youth unemployment. They find that the Youth Contract is a good start – but nowhere near enough to tackle the problem.

Dr Neil Lee
19 September 2012

Enterprise in deprived areas: Different problems or different firms?
Government policy often tries to target firms in deprived areas, and remove the barriers they face to success. The Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI), for example, tried to address barriers such as lack of skilled labour or access to finance in specific geographical area. Yet there has been little evidence to support this approach.

Dr Neil Lee
12 July 2012

Local innovation and freedom go hand in hand
Last December, Nick Clegg announced the City Deals – a series of tailored agreements between Whitehall and the core cities, giving them new powers and responsibilities.

Dr Neil Lee
05 July 2012

Move to speed up Youth Contract in troublespots is welcome but we need more for the long-term
Youth unemployment is one of the most important issues facing the UK, and it is highly spatially uneven – we’ve repeatedly warned about hotspots of youth unemployment. To address this, Nick Clegg will today announce extra help for young people in 20 youth unemployment troublespots. In places like Hartlepool, Birmingham and Middlesborough, the Youth Contract will be speeded up: eligibility will begin at 6 months rather than the usual 9.

Dr Neil Lee
27 June 2012

Cameron’s StartUp Loans are unlikely to create jobs or growth
David Cameron has today announced StartUp Loans, a £2,500 loan to help young people start their own business. Schemes like this aim to address economic problems (the double dip recession) and social ones (high youth unemployment) simultaneously.

Dr Neil Lee
28 May 2012

Youth Contract welcomed but it's a short-term fix
The government’s Youth Contract goes live today. This is a response to concerns about rising youth unemployment, which reached a million last year. The scheme includes wage incentives of around £2,275 for 18-24 year olds who have been out of work for some time and 250,000 work experience placements. There will be more money to ‘incentivise’ apprenticeships and an additional fund (£126 million) to get teenagers who are NEET into education, employment or training.

Dr Neil Lee
02 April 2012

The Budget will do little to help the crisis of youth unemployment
The Budget had little to say on youth unemployment. Part of this was because of theYouth Contract – going live at the start of April. Yet, as our Missing Million research programme argues, youth unemployment is a serious crisis for the UK. Given the scale of the problem it is surprising that new money wasn’t found.

Dr Neil Lee
21 March 2012

Labour market not delivering for young people
Today’s labour market statistics are grim reading for young people: 1.04 million young people aged 16 to 24 are now unemployed, an increase of 22,000 from September 2011. The unemployment rate amongst young people is 22.2%, compared to 8.4% overall.

Dr Neil Lee
15 February 2012

'City Deals' are an important first step - but localism should not stop here
A series of ‘City Deals’ are due to be announced today. Amongst other things, the eight core cities will be getting a single consolidated capital pot, fast track Tax Increment Financing and a single City Skills Fund to help match skills needs with provision.

Dr Neil Lee
08 December 2011

What to do about youth unemployment?
Yesterday’s job numbers were grim. Young people, in particular, are having a tough time of it. Unemployment amongst 16 – 24 year olds is likely to hit a million soon. And an overlooked aspect of the numbers was the rise in young people who are long-term unemployed – an increase of 53,000 on the last quarter.

Dr Neil Lee
13 October 2011

Finance for high growth firms: EIS and beyond
Brussels has given the Treasury the go-ahead to expand the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). By reducing the tax investors pay when backing high-risk companies, it’s designed to increase investments in them. The government argues the scheme will create more high growth firms: the seven per cent of firms who create half of all new jobs. It’s a big win for NESTA (sponsors of our Big Innovation Centre) who have been highlighting the importance of these firms for some time.

Dr Neil Lee
26 September 2011

Who takes the Credit?
Iain Duncan Smith spoke at The Work Foundation this morning, as part of our Bottom Ten Million research programme. He’s spent the last year revamping the benefits system and introducing a simplified, Universal Credit. Many have welcomed this.

Dr Neil Lee
30 June 2011

Work Programme announcement
We welcome many elements of the government’s new initiative, such as a focus on sustained employment and increased flexibility. A number of features of the programme – payment by results, the emphasis on employment sustainability and the ‘black box’ approach which will incentives innovation – are, we think, good ideas.

Dr Neil Lee
10 June 2011

Turning it up to eleven: Low earners in the recovery
In a report out today, the Resolution Foundation have warned of stagnant real wages for the eleven million people at the bottom end of the labour market. With a wealth of data, it presents a convincing case: the growth of the last few years has bypassed many working people, who are increasengly squeezed by rising cost of living.

Dr Neil Lee
27 May 2011

Transfer payments: Why knowledge transfer helps the UK get value from its Universities?
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) have just announced the new higher education innovation funding (HEIF) package.

Dr Neil Lee
26 May 2011

Rebalancing sectorally, but not spatially
This was supposed to be about rebalancing – moving the economy from services to manufacturing, away from reliance on London and the South East and from the public to private sector.....

Dr Neil Lee
23 March 2011

Regional inequality may be the price for growth
The Local Growth White Paper was presented to a sparsely populated commons, with the bulk of the headlines covering the new Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS) announcement. In short, most big cities got them (although they didn’t always get the name). Notable exceptions include Newcastle and Hull.

Dr Neil Lee
28 October 2010

Supporting High Growth Firms: Easier said than done?
One of the themes of the Spending Review was a focus on growth. Yet while it is good to aim for growth, its not easy to achieve it.

Dr Neil Lee
21 October 2010

The geography of cuts
The BBC are doing a ‘day of cuts’, and to highlight it they’ve released an index of resilience to economic shocks. The results are familiar: northern cities such as Middlesbrough, and those in the Midlands such as Stoke and Mansfield are vulnerable. Affluent commuter towns near London, such as Elmbridge in Surrey and St Albans have done well.

Dr Neil Lee
09 September 2010

On your bike – but where to?
On Sunday Iain Duncan Smith made headlines suggesting that unemployed people should move to more economically successful areas to find work.

Dr Neil Lee
28 June 2010

Related News

Wage inequality and employment polarisation
A video of Dr Neil Lee explaining the findings from the latest report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Dr Neil Lee
03 May 2013

Cuts will widen divide between successful cities and those with weak economies
welcomes the Spending Review’s focus on growth. The cuts in public sector jobs will only be absorbed by growth in the private sector if job creation in the private sector is sufficiently strong.

Dr Neil Lee
20 October 2010

Decisive government action could save cities at risk of being left behind
A report by The Work Foundation published tomorrow (Thursday) investigates the geography of the UK recovery and sets out which policies will support economic prosperity and respond to the distinctive circumstances faced by different cities. Decisive government action could save cities at risk of being left behind

Dr Neil Lee
07 July 2010