With the results of the referendum leading to a likely Brexit we cannot afford to sit back in shock. Instead we must unite across the country, working together to strengthen the UK’s global position, and fundamental to that is addressing economic issues in the North.
The economic imbalance of England’s North/South divide has harmed the overall strength of the UK. The dissatisfaction of those living in the North, as evidenced by the EU referendum vote which saw swathes of post-industrial areas vote to leave, has clearly illustrated that.
The Northern Powerhouse agenda which was supposed to address this imbalance needs to do much more, rebalancing the UK is too important for the Northern Powerhouse to remain a slogan – it is essential to the growth and stability of the United Kingdom post Brexit.
As Chancellor George Osborne stated last week (JULY 1) at Manchester’s Chamber of Commerce, “the best response [to Brexit] is to redouble efforts with the Northern Powerhouse”. However, redoubling efforts may not be enough, we need a bigger and clearer, well-funded economic plan for the North if the UK is to be successful in a global market place.
The Northern Powerhouse plan isn’t driven by idealism, the UK is in a much stronger position if it tries to grow areas of lower economic potential than try and grow the already saturated regions such as London at the same rate.
IMF figures show globally economic growth rates are stagnating at around $50,000 GDP per capita – the USA is at $54,596, Germany $46,895, Switzerland $58,730 and the UK at $43,940. London’s GDP at $43,770 is near the stagnation value, however the rate in the North of England is just $22,000.
If we were to raise the North’s GDP growth rate (3.9%) to that of the UK average (4.4%), by 2030 we would have added £56 billion in nominal terms to the country’s GDP, £44bn in real terms. With improvements in transport connectivity, skills, innovation, and inward investment by 2050 an extra 850,000 jobs could be created.
The life and health sciences sector has huge potential in the North of England with world-respected universities, nationally leading NHS Trusts, a thriving industry base and population of over 15m people. This sector alone supports over a 1,000 companies, creating over 38,000 skilled jobs and generates over £8bn a year in exports of pharmaceutical products.
The North has a phenomenal manufacturing base with the potential to grow, employ more workers and export more. The UK is the number one destination in Europe for biopharmaceutical companies to establish European Head Quarters. These have mostly landed in the South East – instead of trying to cram everything below Watford we need to look at how we position the North when we’re selling UK Plc to the world.
A recent report by our colleagues in the South, MedCity stated that London needs to add 250,000 square feet of life science work and laboratory space over the next decade. It doesn’t, what needs to happen is the North be promoted for its abundance of wet lab space, access to high-quality research talent, low cost of business set up access to high quality living.
In addition to the Chancellor’s announcement on reducing corporation tax to below 15% working outside of the South East should be encouraged further by linking tax incentives for companies that commit to year-on-year growth in head count in the North and Midlands. A reduction in business rates in Northern cities and in the Midlands would promote and support company growth.
Our relationship with the EU and the rest of the world needs to remain strong. We need access to the EU single market to be able to grow. We need the best people to work at the North’s leading research centres, innovation parks and in the NHS. We must allow skilled workers to move freely across the EU and we must facilitate access for non-EU colleagues to access the EU markets through the UK as they have been able to do for many years.
The health and life science sector in the North of England is booming and it is ready to grow further but this will not happen without the support of a united government and a good post-Brexit deal.
Post-referendum we must forge a deal for the UK and the North that demonstrates that we are serious about addressing the socio economic disparity within our own country, while showing the world that we are united and open for business ensuring we capitalise on the resources of the entire country – not just the South East – to lead to a stronger United Kingdom for all of us.
Related News Articles
Partnership harnesses UK health and life sciences expertise
Impact report highlights successes of Research England-funded NHSA and MedCity partnership
Two Digital Health Hubs awarded to the North of England
Two Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Health Hubs have been created in the North
Join us for a Meet and Match Cell and Gene Therapy event with our UK and German partners
Join us for a meet and match cell and gene therapy event with UK and German Partners