William Eichler 26 March 2018

Industrial strategy neglecting fortunes of ‘left-behind’ areas, think tank warns

The Government’s decision to focus its industrial strategy on the most advanced areas of England risks neglecting the economic fortunes of the bulk of the country, think tank warns.

A new report from the think tank Localis examines how strategic authorities, such as mayoral combined authorities and county councils, can drive the industrial strategy at a local level to raise prosperity and living standards.

The Delivery of an Industrial Strategy - Raising Prosperity Across England warned the Government against focusing all of its attention and resources for the industrial strategy on Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and the Oxford-Cambridge corridor - the most economically advanced areas.

It said this would risk the rest of the country, particularly the poorest areas, being neglected by the strategy.

The think tank also discovered the relationship between productivity and wages varied ‘significantly’ across the country.

Hounslow in London, for example, saw a 55% increase in productivity and an 11% rise in wages. Whereas Mendip in Somerset saw a 22% increase in productivity and a 10% drop in wages.

In East Dorset there was a 9.5% increase in productivity and a 21.2% increases in wages, while in Wyre in Lancashire there was a 3.7% increase in productivity and an 18% increase in wages.

Overall, polling data from YouGov - commissioned by Localis - showed exactly half of those surveyed felt they were paid less than they deserved, nearly a third (31%) paid roughly the right amount, and 7% felt overpaid.

The polling figures also indicated nearly two thirds (61%) of people felt unrewarded for hard work.

‘These figures show too often the relationship between the individual and the economy is broken, or seen to be broken, and too often works disproportionately better for some than others,’ Jack Airey, head of research at Localis.

‘Across the world, recent votes against the status-quo suggests this to be politically unsustainable for mainstream politics. Tackling many peoples’ estrangement with the economy should be a primary aim of current and future governments.’

Cllr Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, commented: ‘The Local Industrial Strategy is an opportunity to re-connect employers and employees to local growth and for government and counties to work together in new and creative ways relevant to local business.

‘In planning for new jobs and homes, successful Local Industrial Strategies must attract new local investment and connect local people and places – with their impressive track record of enabling economic growth, Counties must be at the heart of these plans.’

The MJ looks at the latest report from Localis in more detail here (£).

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