Addressing longstanding productivity and equality gaps remains a top priority for government but requires targeted action. Disparities in economic performance are large across and within English regions, but the picture is not as clear cut as north vs. south. Areas that are considered ‘left behind’ can be found across all regions in England. These include former industrial towns across the North and Midlands, but also coastal towns across the South and East of England.
Tackling these gaps and spreading opportunity throughout the regions is not easy. It requires targeted interventions over multiple dimensions to be sustained over years. It requires investment in the drivers of productivity, particularly skills but also infrastructure, innovation and exporting, and business practices. But if it is to be successful, interventions also need to address social challenges such as health and education deprivation. It also requires examining the role of cities in driving growth, which has dramatically ch