Theresa May’s government has taken its first steps towards an industrial strategy by inviting business to comment on its 132-page long ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’ Green Paper, now open to consultation until 17 April 2017.
This Green Paper demonstrates the government’s initial thinking on how it aims to address a longstanding issue – the imbalance between London and the South East and the rest of the country due to an overly centralised economy.
With Brexit looming on the horizon, the strategy appears all the more pertinent for ensuring Great Britain is in shape for when we eventually end up ‘going it alone’. In order to optimise our global competitiveness it sets out several key challenges that need to be addressed. For example, the UK’s low productivity rate relative to other world-leading economies which Mrs. May highlights in her introduction to the paper: ‘on average, workers in France, Germany and the United States produce around as much in four days as UK workers do in five.’
Or, as Southern Rail passengers might be unsurprised to learn, that British transport infrastructure is classed as the poorest in the G7. Significantly, it appears the Green Paper has received the personal attention of Theresa May, with the prime minister promising to tackle the UK’s poor labour productivity, improve access to capital and cultivate “world-leading” sectors at its launch.
So with Britain’s challenges sharply in focus, what policy suggestions has the Government opened up for discussion in the coming months and what role will the property sector have to play in realising these?
As a first stage in formulating a strategy, it is perhaps unsurprising there is not a lot of new policy, but more restatements of existing commitments to be found here. Many of the bedrock principles championed under David Cameron’s administrations are in play with themes of localism and devolution common threads running throughout.
However, there is a notable shift away from previous governments, towards a distinctly more active role for the public sector, with money earmarked for R&D, Housing and Infrastructure and Accelerated Construction funds. The cornerstone of this funding is set to be a £23bn National Productivity Investment Fund. In addition, bold government decisions such as recently seen on Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station and Heathrow’s third runway look set to be a continuing trend.
The property industry is already recognising the need for investment in the UK’s burgeoning science and technology industries. Redwood client James Dipple is chief executive, MEPC which manages some of Europe’s largest and most successful integrated business, science and technology parks including Milton Park in Oxfordshire, Wellington Place in Leeds and Silverstone Park, Northamptonshire, recently commented ‘there is a growing need for new, modern office and laboratory developments’ to support these sectors.
As the public purse strings remain tight, the other question the Green Paper poses to business is how fixed capital investment can be more effectively unlocked and how barriers which constrain investors from making long-term decisions can be removed. As this paper undergoes consultation between now and April we expect many property industry players will use this opportunity to help contribute to and shape the government’s policy in these areas.
At Redwood Consulting, we have the expertise to help you share your views with decision-makers.
Talk to us about how you can play a role in this emerging policy and share your responses to the government’s questions on the Green Paper below by contacting email@example.com