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LSE expert is first among equals on new panel studying Britain's social divides

Professor John Hills| has been appointed to head the Government's new study of inequality in the UK.

The National Equality Panel will spend a year producing an authoritative analysis of the changing gaps in British society and the complex factors which cause them.

Photograph of Professor John HillsProfessor Hills, who is director of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion| (CASE) at LSE and professor of Social Policy|, was asked to chair the panel of experts by Harriet Harman MP, Minister for Women and Equality.

Professor Hills said: 'British society continues to be marked by great differences in the positions of different groups. However, the ways in which these are changing are complex. It will be the job of this independent panel to map these out on the basis of the most authoritative information we can compile, and to identify areas where challenges to policy remain.

'I am honoured to have been asked by Harriet Harman to take on this work, and delighted that such a distinguished group has agreed to join the panel.'

The panel will be able to commission new research as well as gathering and examining data from the last 10 years. It will consider a whole range of factors which can restrict peoples' chances in life, from age, gender, disability and class to race, wealth, geography and family background.

Professor Hills said: "We know quite a bit about overall patterns of inequality but this should allow us to separate out some of the more detailed strands of inequality in Britain. For example, the fact that women tend to be paid less than men is well known but there are more complex inequalities among women themselves, according to where they live or other social circumstances.'

The panel, which starts work in October, also includes CASE associate Dr Ruth Lupton, Professor Steve Machin of the Centre for the Economics of Education| at LSE, and six other experts.

Ms Harman said: "Equality matters more than ever and it is necessary for individuals, a peaceful society and a strong economy. To advance equality through our public policy, we need clarity of evidence and focus on the gaps in society and how they have changed over the last ten years.'

Professor Hills will submit his panel's report to Government by the end of November 2009.

For more information contact;

LSE press office on 020 7955 7440
Government Equality Office| press office 020 7276 0996

10 September 2008