Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
5:00 AM 18th November 2020

Reviving Yorkshire & The Humber: New Approach Can Propel Region Beyond Covid Recovery To Fairer Future - CBI

Long-term inequalities must end if region is to enjoy sustainable rebound

Targeted action to boost innovation and stimulate job creation will be vital if Yorkshire & the Humber is to build back better from the economic ravages of coronavirus, says a new report from the CBI.

" Building back quickly and effectively is essential, but a recovery driven only by limited pockets of productivity is far from a real recovery, and hardly the basis for a brighter future"
The CBI’s Reviving Regions paper, sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group, highlights long-standing regional inequalities across England which inhibit growth, opportunity and productivity.

It says the disparities in economic performance are large, both across England and within regions, and warns they are at risk of widening further if Government levelling-up ambitions falter in the wake of Covid-19.

The paper calls for a long-term strategic vision to guide the country through a vital post-Covid recovery and towards long-term prosperity.

In Yorkshire & the Humber, action to revive the jobs market is viewed as a priority. The pandemic has bitten deeply into workers’ employment prospects, particularly in younger generations where unemployment stands at 10% in some parts of the region. Action to deliver skills training – particularly in burgeoning green sectors – can protect livelihoods and support communities.

Creating an environment which drives up R&D investment and innovation can also prove transformational for a region where such spending is traditionally low, while progress on long-awaited infrastructure projects including HS2 would be welcomed.

Underpinning all of this is a call to empower Yorkshire & the Humber’s local and regional leaders to create a culture where businesses can operate, invest and grow with confidence.

The report’s recommendations include:

Building vibrant local labour markets​: including increasing local capacity to deliver back-to-work programmes alongside a long-term focus on the devolution of adult skills to meet our growing skills and retraining gap.
Transforming local infrastructure to facilitate new ways of working​: including a focus on the future of towns and cities, improving digital connectivity, and a wholesale reform of regional funding to ensure a strategic approach to future investment.
Inspiring world-class, innovative businesses to invest in the regions​: including short term interventions to help businesses grow, locally designed and delivered business support with a focus on access to exporting opportunities, and interventions to close the gap in regional R&D funding.

Becky Hart
Becky Hart
Beckie Hart, CBI Yorkshire & the Humber Director,
said: “Yorkshire & the Humber is a region with many examples of excellence, ranging from strong city economies like Leeds and Sheffield to outstanding strength in sectors like advanced manufacturing, healthcare, professional services and energy.

“Yet these successes are not spread evenly, even within the region. Pockets of inequality remain – and have been worsened by the pandemic – while unemployment is rising. The traditionally-strong hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors have been hit especially hard. Giving people an opportunity to learn skills fit for new industries is essential if we are to prevent long-term economic scarring.

“Fostering an environment where companies can invest in R&D and innovation will also be vital if the region is to enjoy a fair and sustainable recovery. That can be the foundation which enables Yorkshire & the Humber businesses to succeed not just regionally or nationally, but globally too.”

The CBI believes the actions outlined in Reviving Regions can mitigate the regional impact of the pandemic and ensure no towns or cities are left behind as the nation looks to rebuild.

However, it stresses that a ‘one size fits all’ approach cannot succeed in combating issues which are unevenly spread, and advocates actions being locally and regionally led to ensure they are appropriately targeted.

Matthew Fell
Matthew Fell
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said: “The twin threats of Covid-19 and a potential no-deal Brexit have created a devastating and unprecedented economic challenge. Building back quickly and effectively is essential, but a recovery driven only by limited pockets of productivity is far from a real recovery, and hardly the basis for a brighter future.

“Businesses in every corner of England stand ready and willing to play their part in the economic rebound, but too-often see their efforts hampered by inadequate infrastructure and limited access to skilled workers.

“The Government must therefore prioritise long-term investment in the critical structures, training, and innovation needed to support jobs and quality of life around the UK. This long-overdue levelling-up can lay the foundation for a better, greener and fairer economy for all.”

Catherine Rutter, Lloyds Banking Group’s Ambassador for Yorkshire and the Humber,
said: “The regions and nations of the UK have a huge role to play in the country’s recovery from the effects of the pandemic.

“For Yorkshire and the Humber to fulfil its potential, there will need to be a focus on ensuring people here have the skills they need for the jobs of the future. By doing that, we can help play our part in a lasting and sustainable recovery.

Catherine Rutter
Catherine Rutter
“Lloyds Banking Group is committed to helping every part of the UK build back from the effects of the pandemic and many of the themes highlighted in this CBI report echo what we have heard through The Big Conversation, our own programme which brings together political leaders, businesses and policy experts to explore the best road to recovery across the UK.”