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Put wellbeing at the heart of industrial strategy, commission says

An independent commission has called for a new approach to industrial strategy, which will make a ‘long-lasting impact’ on ‘people’s everyday lives’.

Published today, the final report by the Industrial Strategy Commission calls for a complete overhaul of how the government views industrial strategy.

It argues that the new industrial strategy must be an ambitious long-term plan with a positive vision for the UK.

It says that while the strategy should ‘not try to do everything everywhere’, it should ‘seek to do something for everywhere’.

‘In five or 10 years’ time we should be able to pick anywhere in the UK and say how the strategy has helped that place, its people and industries,’ the report states.

The report also calls for ‘further and faster’ devolution to towns, cities and regions and that the strategy must have ‘an ambitious plan to tackle our major regional imbalances’.

The commission is an independent joint initiative by Policy@Manchester at The University of Manchester and the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) at the University of Sheffield.

The report recommends that all places in the UK be served by high-quality infrastructure and have access to high-quality human capital-building universal services. It says that achieving better outcomes for people’s wellbeing must be placed at the centre of the industrial strategy.

‘Our version of universal basic infrastructure would give all people, places and businesses access to the physical infrastructure they need – such as transport, energy, and digital – and also to the ‘soft’ infrastructure of high quality health and education services that are essential to everyone’s well-being and capacity to find jobs,’ said one of the commissioners, Professor Diane Doyle from Policy@Manchester at the University of Manchester.

The new strategy should be organised around decarbonising the economy, investing in infrastructure and increasing export capacity.

It also recommends a new independent expert body – The Office for Strategic Economic Management – should be created to monitor the new strategy, which should be created on the model of the Office for Budgetary Responsibility.

‘The UK’s people, places and industries have great strengths and untapped potential, but we must accept the reality that the economy also contains many long-established weaknesses,’ said commission chair, Dame Kate Barker.

‘Industrial strategy needs to be embraced as a long-term plan to manage the economy strategically and embedded throughout government.

‘If we get the new strategy right it can build on these strengths, tackle our weaknesses and above all have a positive, long-lasting impact on people’s everyday lives,’ added Dame Barker.

‘This implies that sometimes it will be right to choose equity and long-term-gains over short-term efficiency.’

Speaking at the report’s launch in London, business secretary Greg Clark, said: ‘Our modern industrial strategy has an ambitious long-term vision for the UK that will build on our strengths as a country and deliver a high-skilled economy for the years ahead.

‘It is encouraging to see the commission places equal value on an industrial strategy that boosts earning power, spreads prosperity and increases opportunities for all areas of the UK.’

  • Read the report here.

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