Hill country southwest of Bainbridge (Yorkshire, England 2016)
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Nick Hill

Yorkshire reacts to Theresa May’s Industrial Strategy launch

Following the launch of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Industrial Strategy, Bdaily is eager to find out how this will impact the Yorkshire region.

As previously reported, the government will provide a £556m boost for the Northern Powerhouse initiative. This funding will help create new jobs, support businesses and generate growth across the North of England.

£156.9m of this fund is being earmarked for key projects across Yorkshire and the Humber.

Bdaily has now compiled a list of initial reactions from people located across the entire region, in an attempt to discover what the Industrial Strategy actually means.

Richard Wright, Executive Director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce

The Industrial Strategy unveiled by the Prime Minister today seems to be a real attempt to build upon some of the principles she has outlined about making Britain better for everybody.

I particularly like the regional aspect to it which is something the Chambers have been lobbying for. One size does not fit everybody across the country and we all have different priorities.

Of course, the devil will be in the detail. The circa £560million for the Northern Powerhouse is great but how long will it be spent over?

Picking sectors has delivered mixed results in the past so the focus on skills and research and development is a good idea. A different approach to finance investment is also needed.

Get the foundations right and the rest will follow!

The Government has outlined a more interventionist policy which can work to a point. We must all remember, however, that government cannot do everything. Business needs to pick up the cudgel and become more productive and create wealth.

Global real estate advisor, Colliers International’s Leeds Office Director, Guy Gilfillan

Global real estate advisor, Colliers International, the first real estate company to join the government’s Northern Powerhouse Partnership programme, gave an “enthusiastic welcome” to the announcement of additional investment by Whitehall in the Northern Powerhouse.

Guy Gilfillan said: This financial commitment is further evidence of the ongoing building of momentum behind the Northern Powerhouse as the Government continues to move to rebalance the national economy and more people and organisations begin to understand what the region is all about and how they can play their part in its continued economic and social renaissance.

Andy Wood, Managing Partner, Grant Thornton Yorkshire

The Prime Minister sets out a wide-ranging and ambitious approach to modernising the UK’s infrastructure and enhancing economic competitiveness. UK industrial strategy needs to tackle deep-seated productivity issues, anticipate future needs and rapid change in the economy, and address the challenges and opportunities of Brexit.

The Government’s comprehensive approach seems to cover these bases and – subject to the detail and implementation – has the potential to be transformative in creating a vibrant post-Brexit economy.

The sector-focused approach should prove prudent, as the nuances in opportunities and challenges within each sector will differ and need to be approached accordingly.

More generally, the emphasis on skills, trade, R&D and infrastructure will no doubt be welcomed by the business community, as we know these are key areas where businesses of all sizes have expressed concerns over in recent years.

Similarly, the place-based approach will resonate with communities and businesses based outside the capital – many of which feel left behind by London’s economic and political dominance. Our research has shown there are real and tangible improvement opportunities in these communities, but they need the resources and devolved authority to realise them.

Alongside this, true collaboration and engagement across Combined Authorities, local political leaders and local business leaders will be crucial in delivering the strategy and ensuring it meets its aim of supporting all across the economic spectrum whilst ensuring Britain is match fit for the new global economy.

Inviting businesses and workers to contribute to this vision to create a high-skilled economy where every place can meet its potential will be vital to the Strategy’s successful development and implementation. We look forward to exploring the details in more depth and sharing our ideas with government over the coming weeks and months.

Geoff White, Policy Manager at RICS North & Midlands

Today we heard that the Prime Minister is keen to listen to industry. And if the Prime Minister is ready to listen, the construction and property sector is certainly ready to talk. Our industry operates on the front line of the British economy, constantly developing innovative solutions to some of UK plc’s greatest challenges. For the first time in a long time, we have a government who are keen to collaborate with industry.

But let us not underestimate the scale of the challenge. We are facing our worst construction skills crisis in twenty years and with the possible loss of access to the single market, this will only get worse.

The Industrial Strategy’s focus on skills is essential if we are to train the workforce we need to meet our ambitious infrastructure targets.

And while these are warm words, more detail is needed on whether a sector deal will be available for land, property and construction - an essential if this Government and the forthcoming Housing White Paper are able to solve this country’s housing crisis. Beyond skills, there are shorter term barriers preventing industrial growth in our sector.

These range from lack of available land to planning delays. If these are not tackled with urgency, we will no longer be the builders.

Peter Simpson, director of the N8 Research Partnership (N8)

The N8 Research Partnership (N8) is the collaboration body for the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, and York, and aims to maximise the impact of this research base to enable business innovation and societal transformation.

Peter said: Looking at the five sectors that can now expect to receive targeted government support through early sector-focussed deals: life sciences, low-carbon vehicles, nuclear, industrial digitalisation, and creative industries – their alignment to the Northern Powerhouse’s key economic capabilities of Health Innovation, Energy, and Digital is strong.

Energy, Digital, and Health Innovation are economic capabilities the North has recognised as major strengths, and each has a core of emerging innovation from universities and SMEs that is building new ‘hot spots’ within these capabilities.

Cultivating world-leading sectors is a key goals and N8 looks forward to working with Government, our Northern Powerhouse Partners, and the Local Enterprise Partnerships, to translate the potential of sectoral hotspots in industrial digitalisation and life sciences, into economic growth.

Do you think the Industrial Strategy will impact Yorkshire? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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