CBI chief: parts of UK have been neglected, but we have a 'shot at redemption'

Parts of the UK have been neglected for decades, leading to a “branch line” economy according to a leading group of companies – but the country now has a “shot at redemption”.

The CBI said delivering economic growth across the country will be the determining factor in whether the government’s leveling agenda will be a success.

Director General Tony Danker said that economic clusters need to be created or built upon in different parts of the UK.

On today’s opening day of the CBI annual conference, he will announce that Britain has had to live with the consequences of offering little more than “good neglect”.

Since the most productive parts of a sector, such as the main offices, are too often located in London and the South East, the UK operates as a “branch-line economy,” he argued.

Mr. Danker announced that the CBI is establishing a Center for Thriving Regions to help the private sector get involved in “real economic space-building,” with input from the group’s 800-strong regional council network.

He will say, “What Britain needs to stimulate is economic growth in every place. Growth, which in turn offers better paid jobs, skilled work, corporate success and creates a positive cycle that helps a place to flourish.

“The truth is that Britain suffered from deindustrialization. Since the 1980s we let old industries die – and offered little more than benevolent neglect of what was left behind – an economic policy that was ambivalent when it came to leveling.

“Too relaxed about a brain drain when young people leave their homes to pursue better paying jobs. In the south, wages are on average higher than in the north. Multinational corporations predominantly based in the southeast, where new industries flourished. Abandoned main streets in cities and towns. A loss of pride.

“We have spent the last few decades living with these consequences, but now we have a chance for redemption, a chance to regenerate with emerging industries like biotechnology, space and cybersecurity popping up all over the country.

“Even more to net zero, which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the UK’s industrial core countries to lead this new industrial revolution as it did last. In hydrogen. Offshore wind. Carbon deposition. Electric vehicles and batteries and other net zero solutions.

“A chance for these places to be world leaders again. If that’s not a level up, I don’t know what is. “

This year’s CBI conference will take place over three days at eight locations across the country.

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