Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The 'vision' of higher productivity and economic growth in Devon "bears little relation to reality"

Britain is already falling behind the rest of the EU (let alone the US) in terms of productivity - and that is before Brexit happens:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and choosing between an American or a European model

But meanwhile in Devon, the expectations for 'higher productivity' seem increasingly unrealistic:

We are asked to endorse a ‘vision’ of higher productivity and economic growth and create an extra layer of bureaucracy to support it. 
The problem is that the vision bears little relation to reality. 
The ambition is to double the regional economy in 18 years, i.e. to increase its size by 100% – this requires a compound growth rate of 3.94%. In the real world, the actual growth rate in the SW over the last 18 years has been 30% and the annual rate 1.47%. 
Nationally, the UK economy has never grown by more than 3% p.a. in any of the last 18 years, and is currently veering downwards below 1.5%.

Futures Forum: Devolution proposals for Devon and Somerset >>> "focusing on delivering improved productivity" or "an unelected, one-party combined authority"?

Here is the evidence for why Devon is never going to reach such levels of productivity:

Manufacturing jobs have been haemorrhaging for years - and cannot be readily replaced:
Staggering 50,000 manufacturing jobs lost in a decade | Devon Live

In fact, the Devon/Somerset area has one of the lowest levels of productivity in the country:

The region battles to solve the productivity crisis leaving the UK lagging behind European counterparts, even though we work the most hours. Workers in Devon, Somerset and Cornwall are among the least productive in the country and are lagging behind colleagues in France, Germany and the US who are producing on average as much in four days as UK workers do in five.

Futures Forum: "A staggering 50,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in the South West in a decade." Which is not surprising, as "the LEP area ranks 32nd out of 39 LEP areas in England for the level of productivity."

And just plonking a couple of massive warehouses between Exeter and East Devon isn't going to solve that particular conundrum:
Futures Forum: The promises from the Skypark 'business park' >>> "A multinational comes along and plonks itself just out of town. Hooray, they tell us... Jobs for all!"

And yet the Local Enterprise Partnership which is pushing for 'devolution' for Devon/Somerset is utterly convinced:

On 1 January 2018, a new “Joint Committee” will come into being: It is charged with delivery of a “productivity strategy” for the whole Devon and Somerset area.

Is a new, powerful supra-regional authority being created without public consultation? | East Devon Watch
Futures Forum: The picture of 'devolution' in the South West gets murkier

And this is from the pages of the even murkier 'Great South West' organisation - again, promising more 'productivity':

A wide range of leaders from organisations across the South West of England (including from the public, business and education sectors) have been discussing how they can work together under a common banner to enable a common strategy for increased productivity and prosperity for all. Great South West is the working title for this.
With over £100bn of business opportunities, the South West has much to contribute to UK plc; a dynamic and progressive South West economy can generate the critical success factors needed for a successful national economy.

Great South West
Futures Forum: Dithering over devolution in the SouthWest >>> "The name Great South West is a working title at present and may alter as the intiative gains momentum in order to be appropriate and resonate with all parties. This is not a brand used by the West of England LEP for their local authority areas."

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