We were anticipating the long-awaited upgrade report, but the Independent Business Network (IBN) of family businesses has produced its own. Using Yorkshire as a good example of what can be done to energize a region, the report is very clear on what is needed and what should not deliver results rather than window dressing.
It is clear that regions need wealth, not well-being. They need the proverbial fishing rod, not some miserable fish thrown away by the Treasury, while the City of London happily continues to ‘catch up’, to some extent at the expense of the rest of the economy.
The NBI makes it clear that the best thing that can be done to boost the regions is to increase the size of the national pie by opting for super growth in key aspects of the national economy. In doing so, the regions will enjoy a differential advantage as they have greater capacity for growth than the South East and London, especially in a tight labor market.
For Yorkshire and the regions to succeed, manufacturing needs to be boosted. This means a favorable investment environment, including access to long-term loans and equity, a favorable tax regime of lower corporate taxes and corporate rates that recognize investment.
This would increase the chances of businesses surviving for the first few years of their existence and thus persuade potential entrepreneurs that the risks of starting their business are outweighed by the potential benefits.
Manufacturing still accounts for 10% of the economy, more than banking and insurance combined. There is no doubt that it is for the most part robust and efficient, having survived the excessively high value of sterling during the oil boom of the 1980s and 1990s and having fought China’s growth from the 2000s to our days.
In terms of productivity growth for money, it is the manufacturing sector that can deliver; services rarely provide such productivity increases. That said, AI can change the nature of services, which is all the more reason to support manufacturing as well. One thing is certain, a growing and unlimited supply of cheap labor is not a way to increase the productivity and wealth of the economy.
The report also identifies specific indicators of leveling up. He applauds the abandonment of the overly expensive anachronism that is HS2 and instead calls for the money to be spent on road and rail infrastructure in Yorkshire and across the Pennine links between major cities. Faster journeys between York, Leeds, Sheffield and Harrogate will help encourage less
The provision of world-class digital infrastructure is more essential than ever for regional development.
Residents of Ilkley deserve and should expect the same broadband connections as those of Islington. Moreover, given the new propensity for remote working, the development of digital infrastructures is a surefire way both to attract new talent to the regions and to put an end to the brain drain that has plagued the regions for decades. decades.
Given the choice of working in a highly skilled job in London or Yorkshire, I know which option many would choose.
The necessary supply of housing construction to make the regions attractive is also identified, as is the continuous requirement for continuing education and centers of excellence in higher education linked to businesses.
It is all of these investments that will create well-paying jobs in the regions and attract entrepreneurs, who are the basis of wealth. What we don’t need are the brand new “sixth elite forms” offered by the DfE. These will only serve students who already have good results; we need centers that help those who are struggling to better themselves and develop the skills that local businesses will need in the future.
We can think of the above as the combination of ingredients that will produce the Yorkshire cake – the combination of policies that will lead to sustainable leveling in the regions.
The only thing that is definitely not helpful is trying to put an unnecessary cherry on top: creating more regional mayors is nothing more than posturing and imposing a another unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and cost. As typical as Whitehall and politicians think the answer is more bureaucrats and politicians, it certainly isn’t.
John Longworth is an entrepreneur and businessman and is President of the Independent Family Business Network. A former CEO of the British Chambers of Commerce, he is based in Yorkshire and was a Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber.