Two weeks ago the UK government unveiled its proposals for a new industrial strategy, one which promises ‘to improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country.’ As the dust settles on the announcement, press reaction to the 132-page Green Paper has been lukewarm.
The Financial Times reports that many of the initiatives are a ‘recap’ of existing programmes and initiatives https://www.ft.com/content/22971970-e0b2-11e6-8405-9e5580d6e5fb and argues that the UK needs a productivity policy rather than an industrial policy. It employs strong language in characterising regional growth proposals as a ‘blueprint for waste’, and instead stresses the need for more skilled migration to solve the productivity problem https://www.ft.com/content/cec52b04-e16d-11e6-9645-c9357a75844a
The Guardian warns that the ‘the principle of strategic investment and regional rebalancing is easier to extol than to realise’, and finds that these initial proposals are ‘too vague and dispensable to inspire lasting confidence.’ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/23/the-guardian-view-on-industrial-strategy-hot-air-but-no-liftoff
A note of caution is sounded by The Telegraph who argue against a market-leading role for policy, instead calling for a government which ‘helps to create the circumstances in which businesses can grow – and then gets out of the way.’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2017/01/23/theresa-mays-industrial-strategy-can-success-stays-way2/ Meanwhile, the Independent welcomes the principle of an industrial strategy, but emphasises the need for firm policies to back up May’s intentions. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/editorials/theresa-may-cbi-conference-industrial-strategy-right-to-revive-good-intentions-firm-policies-a7430176.html Ben Chu, their Economics Editor, argues that the looming uncertainties of Brexit could potentially work against the objectives of the Industrial Strategy http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-supreme-court-industry-british-businesses-strategy-block-europe-a7543246.html
The coming weeks and months will see further details emerge as the UK government’s plans are firmed up. Stay tuned to the RSA’s Brexit and Industrial Strategy news for the latest announcements and analysis.
The opinions presented here are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Regional Studies Association