From education to employment



The cost of living crisis is laying bare how our regional inequalities have worsened.   According to ONS data, the productivity gap between large regions has widened over the last 20 years. Regional disparities in the UK are now among the greatest in the OECD. Governments have promised big changes for over 30 years and the situation has deteriorated, not improved. 

Business-led economic clusters are key to unlocking growth potential in our regions and nations. They are hubs of economic activity – like Silicon Valley in the US – that can create new and unique opportunities. But the UK is missing a trick here. Instead of facilitating cluster development, the UK is losing out on new high value jobs and investment. To improve young people’s hope of forging a career and staying local we have to tackle inequalities at their core and power up our regions and nations, beyond Government grants. 

That’s why the CBI is today launching its Clusters Playbook. Our Playbook provides bespoke guidance for business leaders, policymakers and investors who want to seize opportunities across UK plc and accelerate our levelling up ambitions. 

Ahmed Goga, CBI Director of Regions & Clusters, said: 

“As our Playbook shows, business and policymakers alike must now be bold and zone in on distinct local competitive advantages which can shift the needle on UK economic growth and be genuinely world class.  

“This will also create new jobs, new investment, and new spillover benefits to the wide regional economy in areas like retail, hospitality and leisure. 

“Now is the time to forge ahead on our growth opportunities– in every part of the UK. Policymakers must tackle the under-investment and productivity currently hampering business ambitions to unlock an estimated £200 billion of new economic activity as outlined in our Seize the Moment strategy.” 

While the UK already boasts a number of internationally successful economic clusters, we need to do more to boost regional growth. To succeed, firms require a supportive policy environment that responds to local needs – including strong local leadership. The CBI is strongly supportive of ambitious devolution deals. They encourage “go to” leadership such as Mayors and enable cities and regions to make policy and planning decisions tailored to the needs of their communities. 

Ben Rhodes, CBI Regional Director, said: 

“It’s clear we need to see more action when it comes to cluster development. Our Clusters Playbook is there to support policymakers and firms across the South West, who know the value clusters can bring when it comes to new job and investment opportunities.”

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