Hard-wired bias will frustrate Industrial Strategy, says Rotheram

Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, has warned that the Industrial Strategy launched by government this week could be doomed to failure if the “hard-wired bias” towards the South East isn’t acknowledged and dealt with.

Speaking today at the annual conference of Universities UK in London, Rotheram called on the audience of vice-chancellors and senior academics to play a deeper and more integral role in driving economic growth, and working with the new devolved structures in city regions, citing the work of the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University in helping reshape their local economy.

However, Rotheram added a warning that structural bias towards London, the South East and the so-called Golden Triangle could jeopardise growth prospects in the very areas that possessed the greatest productive potential:

He said: “Simply focusing on areas that are already overheating is one of the biggest obstacles to a national Industrial Strategy. The greatest potential to boost UK productivity lies is areas beyond the M25, but this will not happen without radical structural and cultural change.”

Among the evidence of structural bias cited by the Metro Mayor were the promotion of Crossrail 2 ahead of Northern Powerhouse Rail; an ongoing infrastructure investment imbalance that favours the South by a factor of 6 to 1, the Treasury’s use of a cost-benefit ratio evaluation model that discriminates in favour of areas with higher incomes, land values and tax receipts; and a South East-favouring imbalance in UK Research Council awards.

Rotheram called for a new Treasury evaluation model explicitly linked to the re-balancing potential of projects: “We need a thorough and unequivocal commitment to greater devolution as the only way to overcome hard-wired bias and metro-centric default positions.

“Our universities have a massive role to play in creating alternative centres of innovation and growth and becoming active agents for a genuinely devolved and balanced UK economy.”

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Stop blaming others, take some responsibility of the choices that you and your labours councils make!
People are fed up of excuses just get on with it

By Stuart wood

@Stuart: the issues that Rotherham raises are real and have to be addressed if our great cities are going to be able to prosper… “the promotion of Crossrail 2 ahead of Northern Powerhouse Rail; an ongoing infrastructure investment imbalance that favours the South by a factor of 6 to 1, the Treasury’s use of a cost-benefit ratio evaluation model that discriminates in favour of areas with higher incomes, land values and tax receipts; and a South East-favouring imbalance in UK Research Council awards.”

By Anon

maybe more money is used to spend in the south-east on infrastructure because the returns are greater and in fact is the project will cost more because land prices are higher compared to the north and other areas I don’t think it’s a deliberate political choice

By Stuart wood

More money has always been spent on infrastructure in the South East,even when the North West was the engine of the economy. It is out and out prejudice and nothing else. Where did all the revenue from North sea oil go too. Last time I looked there were no oil wells in Hendon.

By Elephant

Of course it’s a political choice. All tax and spend decisions are political. The problem is that the country is so grossly over-centralised, public investment has systematically favoured London and the south east for decades.This sets London’s advantage in stone creating a viscous circle in which the business case for further investment in the SE becomes ever more compelling whilst the diffused and long term costs of underinvestment in the north (increased welfare, wasted human capital, higher business failure, higher costs, lower tax receipts, increased dependence) are obscured. The Treasury’s cost-benefit methodology (a political construct) is not fit for purpose. Same goes for cultural infrastructure investment, science and R&D, national lottery funding and even schools funding in some cases. All these are heavily weighted, per person, in favour of London / SE. It’s an absolute scandal.

This is not a party political issue but an issue born of the over-centralised nature of our political system. Whilst the colonies regained their independence, Westminster retained an iron grip over England and still runs it like an outpost of the British Empire. Steve Rotyetham is absolutely right in calling these issues out.

By Anon

100% correct Anon and Elephant.

By Anonymous

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