Tuesday 13 February 2018 / 10:18 AM Economy / John McDonnell

John McDonnell hosts roundtable for Midlands businesses

The Shadow Chancellor will today host a roundtable at Birmingham City University for Midlands businesses to discuss investment in future technologies and how a Labour government can best work with finance and tech businesses to deliver secure jobs and future prosperity.

Following on from the publication of GFC Economics’ interim review for the Shadow Chancellor on the UK’s financial system, the reviewers are consulting on recommendations from businesses for the final report, due in May this year.

The interim report identified particular weaknesses in the ability of the UK’s financial system to supply investment capital for technology firms and sectors, and for research and development, particularly outside the so-called “Golden Triangle” of the South-East of England.

The roundtable will be opened by Birmingham City University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Julian Beer, who heads up the University’s Research Department. A discussion will take place under Chatham House rules and will feed directly into the final report.

 

Introducing the roundtable, John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor will say:

“The opportunities for the creation of good, secure jobs and economic development across the country from new technology are huge, from advanced healthcare to robotics and Artificial Intelligence.

“But under this Conservative government, the UK has slipped further behind in investment and use of technology. We came bottom of the OECD’s ranking of robotics use in industry. Regional economies are being deprived of essential investment by central government, with new figures for London set to 25% more transport investment than the West Midlands.

“The next Labour government will transform our country so regions outside of London can realise their full potential, and build an economy for the many, not the few.”

Graham Turner, Chief Economist, GFC Economics, said: 

“Economic growth in the UK remains highly uneven. The fastest growing technology companies are concentrated in London, or located in towns and cities with proximity to the capital. At the same time, regional productivity disparities are glaring.

“Economic policy decision-making needs to shift away from London, to create an alternative ‘cluster’. This rebalancing of the economy will be positive for growth: ‘bottlenecks’ have already emerged in the capital, stifling economic activity.

“The Government needs to show a clear determination to achieve this goal. Relocating key economic institutions is a necessary first step. Birmingham is an obvious candidate, but this is just the start of a broader debate.

“Moving parts of the Bank of England would focus the mind on re-establishing the link between the real economy and the banking sector. Regional Bank of England offices should also be set up across the country so that productive lending is tied to the needs of local businesses.”