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TUC calls for action to bridge the great regional divide
Government must empower workers to unlock regional potential, says TUC report on industrial strategy.
The TUC has today (Monday) published Great Jobs in Great Places, a new study that demonstrates how to create great jobs in every community.
England is riven by inequalities. Children in the North East are twice as likely to live in workless households compared to the South East. Men’s earnings in older industrial areas are £200 a month below the national average. And there are also inequalities within areas: despite the city’s overall wealth, 27% of Londoners live in poverty.
Economic insecurity is a major problem in many areas too. For example, two-thirds of the jobs created in the North East since 2011 have been insecure forms of work (e.g. zero-hour contracts, temporary, or agency).
Bridging the gaps
The report says these inequalities are not inevitable, but the result of failing economic policy and too much power resting with central government, rather than workers and local communities.
Great jobs in Great Places highlights how central government is responsible for 72% of all public expenditure in the UK, compared to 35% in France and 19% in Germany.
The report sets out five steps to bridge the gap, based on local TUC studies in Tees Valley, Liverpool City Region, and Norfolk and Suffolk.
- Step 1: Use the workforce to drive up productivity. Most businesses say that their ‘people’ are their greatest strength. Industrial strategy must put this insight into effect, with new sectoral bodies in every region where unions, business and government come together to discuss how to drive up pay, productivity and skills across their sector.
- Step 2: Use the power of government to drive change. Local government spending power can be used to drive up jobs, skills and conditions through innovative use of procurement to bring jobs to the most deprived communities.
- Step 3: Invest in skills. Employer investment is half the EU average, and government investment per employee fell by 13.6% between 2007 and 2015. The cuts must be reversed, with local and regional authorities allowed to shape how funds are used. Devolved adult education budgets should help workers who are unemployed, on low wages or facing redundancy to access free training.
- Step 4: Invest in infrastructure. Business development is held back in too many areas of the UK because of poor infrastructure. The Budget must set out a plan to bring government spending on infrastructure (2.7% GDP) up to at least to the OECD average (3.5%).
- Step 5: Deliver new jobs by tackling climate change. £20 million of government funding to pioneer Carbon Capture and Storage is a drop in the ocean. Areas with energy intensive industry like Tees Valley have the highest carbon emissions per head in the UK. With more government support, the technologies needed to bring down emissions could create good quality new jobs.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Too many people have been left behind. Whole communities have been abandoned for a generation without the investment they need to build a strong local economy. It has left millions of people stuck in dead-end jobs that don’t pay a decent wage. They deserve better.
“In the places we looked at, there was no shortage of opportunities to create stronger industries and great jobs. But to unlock the potential of every part of England, we need to change how the economy works. That means devolving power and funding back to working people and their local communities.
“The government has talked a lot about industrial strategy. Now’s the time to act. We need new investment to bring infrastructure, skills and great jobs to the parts of the country that need them most.”
Notes To Editors
- Full report: Great Jobs in Great Places: how industrial strategy can create great work everywhere can be accessed by media under embargo for 00.01hrs 23 October 2017 from here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/greatjobsingreatplaces.pdf
- Research reports: the three research reports on place-based industrial strategy and great jobs in Tees Valley, Norfolk and Suffolk, and Liverpool City Region, which informed Great Jobs in Great Places, can be found here:
- Tees Valley: https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/how-create-great-jobs-towards-regional-industrial-strategy-tees-valley
- Norfolk and Suffolk: https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/how-deliver-great-jobs-towards-regional-industrial-strategy-norfolk-and
- Liverpool City Region: https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/how-deliver-great-jobs-towards-regional-industrial-strategy-liverpool-city
- Report launch event: The report will be launched at an event at Congress House at 9.30am today (Monday) with keynote speeches from Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady. Other speakers include Rebecca Long Bailey (Labour Party), Michael Jacobs (IPPR Commission on Economic Justice), and Dame Kate Barker (Chair of the Industrial Strategy Commission). Journalists wishing to attend the event should contact the TUC press office.
- Central government spending: Figures for the proportions of central government spending in the UK and Germany are from Diamond, P. and Carr-West, J.: Devolution: a roadmap, LGiU 2015.
- About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.6 million working people who make up our 50 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.
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