Essex could lead the way for the revival of the UK’s regional economies in the post Brexit era, but still has challenges to overcome.
The findings of a unique report into the strengths and weaknesses of the Greater Essex economy by a team of 12 leading academics, business leaders and economists have been revealed today (Tuesday 31st January 2017).
The report, compiled by the Essex Economic Commission which is chaired by leading economist Dr Andrew Sentance CBE, has been assembled to provide independent advice and analysis to partners, providing robust evidence to support decision making in the county.
The commission is the only one of its kind in the UK, and its initial overview report on Greater Essex reveals that:
· Unemployment is below the UK average
· Start-up businesses are strong, but not (yet) delivering strong growth
· Greater Essex is attracting inward investors and building ‘opportunity sectors’
· Apprentice numbers are above the regional average
· Key assets are seaports and airports, major and rail routes, and proximity to London and the London-Cambridge corridor
It also reveals several areas which could be targeted for improvement, including:
· Growth has been slower than the UK average over last 10 years
· Gross Value Add per employee is the lowest in the South East and East Anglia
· Greater Essex has the 4th largest economy in East Anglia and the South East, but growth has been the slowest in the region
· Skills performance is improving, but is failing to close the gap with the rest of the UK
Dr Sentance, one of the country’s leading economists, having worked both as senior economic adviser to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and as a member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, said:
“There are considerable challenges for the UK’s regional economies in the post- Brexit world, but there are also huge opportunities for regions such as Greater Essex.
“This unique research will help Essex plan effectively for that world. It helps decision makers in business and government understand the specific challenges for regions and counties which are multi-centred and diverse in their economic make-up.
“Regions have got to be effective in harnessing post-Brexit opportunities – we have to get all of our regions, not just the Northern powerhouse, firing on all four cylinders to take advantage of the new economic order outside of the EU.”
Managing Director Defence of Harlow-based Raytheon UK, Ray Donelson, said:
“Raytheon UK can contribute to making Essex one of the fastest-growing economies outside of the capital through investing in a range of advanced technologies, developing skills in the region, as well as forging great partnerships with local businesses and academic institutions.”
The full report and details on the Essex Economic Commission are available at http://www.essexgrowth.co.uk/