Levelling up the UK’s regional economies

This report outlines how Mayors provide the Government with the opportunity to develop a new effective set of regional economic development policies to level up across the country and contribute to increasing the UK’s rate of economic growth.

Report published on 2 March 2021 by Lord Sainsbury of Turville

The Government has committed to levelling up productivity and opportunity around the country, yet major regional inequalities exist across the UK today.

This report by Lord Sainsbury of Turville builds on the work of Centre for Cities and proposes that to increase productivity around the country support must be given to the growth of existing potential clusters of high value-added businesses. Notably, this support should be co-ordinated at a city region level by Mayoral Combined Authorities and not by the central government.

The report finds that:

There are very substantial regional differences in economic performance in the UK

The differences between the economic performance of regions within the UK are significant and the task of levelling up these inequalities has been made even more challenging due to Covid-19.

To ‘level up’, economically weaker performing cities need to become clusters of high-value activities

To reduce regional inequalities across the country, the Government must support places to develop clusters of high-value activity.

To support the growth of clusters, the UK’s local government structure must change

Effective and efficient institutions at the regional level should share three features:

  1. They should match the geography of the local economy
  2. They should have accountable leadership
  3. They should have adequate powers and resources to help created the high value-added per capita jobs and clusters that are needed

If Mayors are to have a positive impact on local economic growth, they need to have the necessary powers and resources that allow for:

  1. Joining up transport and spatial planning
  2. A skills system better aligned with business needs
  3. More resources for R&D

In order for the policies set out in this report to be successful, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) should become the lead department for levelling up

This will allow government to co-ordinate its own actions more effectively and successfully deliver on levelling up the prosperity of the regions. The report also proposes a new National Council of Innovation to guide Ministers in their actions.

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