Carolyn Fairbairn: The North East has a Bright Future
This column appeared in the Journal 24th November 2015
Visiting the North East has been the highlight of my first week as CBI Director-General, and I was delighted to be welcomed so warmly by many of our members here. Regional growth is a prerequisite for a healthy UK economy. And despite recent setbacks, I came away with an overall sense of optimism from my time on Tyneside and Teesside and look forward to many more regional visits engaging with members of all sectors and sizes from right across the UK.
My top priority over the next five years will be to build on Britain’s strong recovery to help create the conditions for business to thrive. As a country we have strong foundations – one of the fastest growth rates in the G7, two million new jobs created since 2011, both low inflation and low unemployment. But the global economy is changing at a faster rate than most of us can remember. Digital transformation, globalisation, the changing nature of work, the rise of China – these are forces that are challenging our economy and the way we do business.
I believe the UK has a golden opportunity over the next decade to create a new era of growth and prosperity, and that to do this, we will need to focus on five main priorities:
Access to the talent and skills needed for growth; World class infrastructure – including road, rail, broadband, aviation, housing, energy; Globally competitive tax, regulation and support for enterprise; Easy and open access to global markets and a relationship of trust between business and society. Individually each is key, taking time to work on each will help drive prosperity throughout the country.
These priorities will become the areas the CBI will focus on – a UK Prosperity Agenda – working with you and with governments at regional, national and European level to create policies and solutions to achieve them.
The North East was an inspirational place to visit and I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who gave me their time and views throughout the day, including Alison Thain, our regional chair, for hosting at Thirteen Group and to our regional council members, as well as Newcastle Airport, Greggs, Reece Group, Teesside University and Nissan.
I look forward to seeing the fruits of regional growth in the North East for many years to come.