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Labour welcomes independent report on reducing regional inequality - Rebecca Long Bailey

Today Labour welcomes an independent report into regional inequality and how to rebuild the regions and nations of the UK.

The report, by a group of experts at Sheffield Hallam University led by Professor Steve Fothergill, highlights the UK’s regional inequality problem:
• From 2010-2016 employment in London grew by 18%; in Tees Valley and the Black Country employment fell
• The vast majority of Britain away from areas in and around London have earnings below the national average
• ‘Hidden’ unemployment is much higher in weaker local economies where up to 10% of all working age adults are pushed out of the labour market

The report includes recommendations to:
• Institute a review of the scope for public sector employment to better contribute to reducing economic disparities
• Establish a high level Council for Regional Development to oversee and coordinate programmes and policies for regional development
• Modify the structures of Local Enterprise Partnerships and make the more clearly and directly accountable to the local authorities within their areas
• Allocate proportionately more of the funding available through the National Investment Bank to support the UK’s less prosperous local economies
• Supplement national support for training and skills by earmarking a substantial proportion of the replacement of EU structural funds for skills development in less prosperous local economies

Labour will look closely at all of the report’s recommendations as we build on our industrial strategy, Richer Britain, Richer Lives to create one million good jobs and rebalance our economy.
Rebecca Long Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, commenting on the report, said “There is something fundamentally wrong when the fifth richest country in the world has the highest level of regional inequality in the whole of Europe.

“Whilst some areas of the UK are doing well, vast swathes of the country are being held back with lower wages, lower output, higher unemployment and weaker local economies.

“This report provides a detailed analysis of the UK’s regional problem and we will look closely at the recommendations as we seek to build on our existing policies to rebalance Britain’’.