What would Maggie do?

This 2011 paper looked at why the Government’s policy on Enterprise Zones needed to be radically different to the failed 80s policy.

Report published on 28 February 2011 by Kieran Larkin

It looks increasingly likely that, in the March Budget, George Osborne will turn back the clocks and reintroduce Enterprise Zones as a policy for stimulating growth, particularly in deprived areas of the country. In this paper, we argue that the Coalition should not reintroduce Enterprise Zones based on the model conceived in the 1980s, because it will not achieve desired outcomes and will not be cost effective. Instead, the Government should learn from what did and did not work in the 1980s policy and introduce a new area-based strategy that focuses on investment in people, skills and business growth — the key challenges facing the UK today.

We argue that a more effective policy response is a new form of Enterprise Zones for the 21st century – which we’ve called ‘Local Growth Zones’. These zones would offer the Government the opportunity to trial different types of interventions which are sensitive to an area’s growth challenges. Some of the key elements of these zones could be rapid planning processes and funding towards skills support. A menu of options would give different areas — both deprived and those with greater economic potential — the opportunity to experiment with different interventions and is likely to provide enterprise assistance at lower cost. This approach to Enterprise Zones aligns with the Government’s localism objective, allowing areas to bid to be a Local Growth Zone and then to negotiate with Government which initiatives – chosen from a policy menu – will best drive economic growth in their area.

Download a one page summary.

Selected coverage • FT •Times •Belfast Telegraph •Birmingham Post •LGC •Guardian •Daily Mail •FT •Economist •Radio 4’s Today programme.

This short report is part of our research strand on financial incentives, supported by CB Richard Ellis and SNR Denton.