Watch the webinar
- Tony Danker, Director-General, CBI
- The Rt Hon Christopher Pincher, MP, Minister of State (Minister for Housing) at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
- Rob Hailey, Head of Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Lloyds Banking group
- Hannah Richmond, Principal Policy Advisor, CBI
- James Harding, Co-founder and Editor, Tortoise Media (Chair)
- On his recent listening tour, Tony spent a lot of time talking to members and metro mayors on ‘levelling up’ and the idea of ‘internationally competitive regions’
- Tony added that we need government and business working in tandem, nationally and locally
- Infrastructure investment is a long-term return, but also need to think about how we accelerate dynamic business economic activity quickly to aid the recovery
- As the CBI starts to build our economic vision, levelling up and productivity will be at the heart of this.
Rt Hon Christopher Pincher:
- Chris outlined government action on supporting businesses through the pandemic, including a ban on commercial landlords evicting tenants until next year, allowing shops to extend opening hours, and enabling pubs to open for takeaway and delivery services, and outdoor spaces
- He highlighted that the government has ambitious plans to deliver on its objective to reducing longstanding regional disparities in opportunity and productivity, and to build a competitive economy
- This is alongside the government’s net-zero ambitions and creation of new ‘green jobs’, freeports across the country, and the new prosperity fund, covered in the most recent Spending Review
- Also, the government recently announced £100bn investment in infrastructure, including for new, affordable homes and new £4bn ‘Levelling up’ fund to support upgrading high streets
- ‘Levelling-up’ doesn’t just mean the north-south divide – parts of the South West and East Anglia coastline are ‘left behind’ areas – we need to look between and within different regions.
- What’s needed first is a long-term strategic approach – we also need to think about drivers of productivity e.g., education and skills, exporting, digital access
- We need to address social challenges around health, education, and deprivation
- AI, Brexit and Covid all complicate this – but the priority must be closing productivity and equality gaps
- Changes to the ways we work will also have implications for recovery: productivity growth has usually come from city-centres and if the centre of gravity changes, we may need to re-think where we invest
- We need a place-based, localised approach
- This agenda also being hindered by complication in the system – understanding causes, layers of local and regional government, streams of business support and criteria within different Whitehall departments for funding
- Challenges are also multi-faceted, education, health, and economic deprivation is spread across the country – not just north-south divide, and these also link to housing e.g., do they have a quiet space to study and access to a laptop and internet?
- Highlighted the shift in how Lloyds Banking Customers respond to debt – many have accessed government loan schemes and find themselves in debt for the first time. The thinking is businesses may be more willing to invest in productivity gains in the future now they’re more familiar with debt – which will drive the ‘levelling up agenda’
- However, there is a recognition that businesses need greater access to joined up support and advice
- Also identified a need for certainty regarding political and economic environment, which has an impact on businesses willingness to invest
- Lloyds have lent £11bn to 300,00 customers during the pandemic, significant additional debt in the economy and we are working collaboratively with government on how we do that – to be part of the solution as an industry.