Regions, Productivity and Trade
Economic performance varies widely across towns, cities and rural areas in the UK. Spatial disparities are found in all industrialised countries, although on some measures the UK is significantly more unequal than comparable countries. These disparities are matter for people because local social and economic conditions directly affect individual living standards. In fact, research shows clearly that where you are born has a large effect on your opportunities in life. Spatial disparities mainly arise because of the strong tendency of economic activity to cluster in some places, which is driven to a large degree by the co-location of highly skilled workers and highly productive firms.
In this briefing we explore the key dimensions of spatial disparities and their evolution over time. We highlight some key policies that can help tackle some of these disparities in light of the proposals set out in the manifestos. The briefing is structured in two main sections, the first explores the extent of spatial disparities in the UK and discusses why people care about them, while the second section looks at the main drivers and scope for policy.
Trade and trade policy after Brexit
International trade plays a crucial role in fostering economic growth across a wide range of industries at the national and the regional level. The prospects for UK’s international trade are closely tied to the future relationship between the UK and the EU. Voters are being offered a wide spectrum of choices, ranging from continued membership to the EU, a customs union-type relationship by the Labour party, a looser arrangement under a free trade agreement with the governing Conservative party, and a clean break with trade on WTO terms with the Brexit party. In this Briefing we discuss the UK’s current trading position and the prospects for trade in light of the menu of options discussed above.