If the government is serious about the economy, it needs to focus on places beyond London and the South Eastby Andrew Carter / November 29, 2017 / Leave a comment
Brexit aside, the biggest issue looming over last week’s Budget and the Government’s new Industrial strategy (published on Monday) was the UK’s productivity problem.
Indeed, before both events the Government had already been seriously hamstrung by the Office for Budget Responsibility’s warning that it had overestimated UK productivity in the past seven years—and that economic output is projected to be lower in the coming years as a result.
It was no surprise then that Hammond vowed that the Budget would “raise productivity and wages in all parts of our country.”
Similarly, the Government claims that the Industrial Strategy—its vision for post-Brexit Britain—will transform the UK economy by addressing the “foundations” of productivity.
But what’s missing from the Government’s plans is a clear sense of the different economic challenges that different parts of the country face—and in particular, the huge variations in productivity levels that exist across the UK.
The Greater South East/Everywhere-else productivity divide
As new Centre for Cities research shows, cities in the Greater South East—and not just London but also Reading, Milton Keynes, Aldershot and Slough—are among the most productive in Europe.
They are also 44 per cent more productive than cities elsewhere in the country. In contrast, cities elsewhere in the UK are lagging badly behind—with major cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool all below the national average.