Monday, January 18, 2021

UK manufacturing put centre stage as political heavy hitters join the new Advisory Board of the Institute for Prosperity

A cross-party group of political heavyweights have joined forces to campaign for a new, manufacturing-led economic agenda that supports left-behind regions across the UK.

Described as a team “that will turn the dial on how best to deliver economic growth and put manufacturing centre-stage,” the group is made up of current and former politicians, ministers and economists who will sit on the newly-formed Advisory Board of the Institute for Prosperity.

The nine-person Board, whose members span the aisle, will include former Labour Minister Rt. Hon Caroline Flint, former Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, and Conservative MP John Penrose.

The Institute for Prosperity was founded by businessman and economist John Mills earlier this year and is focussing on new and different ways for which Britain can increase levels growth and prosperity through changes in economic policy.

Principally, the group supports a ‘manufacturing revival’ from less than 10% of the economy to 15%, which it says will best support left-behind communities that have been adversely impacted by deindustrialisation over the last 40 years.

The appointment of the Board by Mills, which met virtually on Thursday (12 Nov), comes as the group steps up its call for a shake-up of economic policy as a way to secure much higher economic growth rates of over 3% per year.

The Board members were each invited for their economic and political expertise. As well as current elected politicians from the government and opposition benches, the Board includes economist and Labour Peer Stephen Pollock. Members of the Board will collaborate on research, help build cross-party consensus, promote policies for growth, and campaigning for a more balanced economy.

The Board will be chaired by former Labour Minister, Shadow Secretary of State from 2010-2015, and MP for Don Valley, Caroline Flint.

Flint said: “I’m pleased to not only be joining but chairing the Board during a pivotal period for Britain. Our economic future has never been so uncertain and a return to the status quo after Covid will only exacerbate our economic, social and cultural divides.

“We are facing deep-seated problems in our economy that leaves millions of communities in the North, Wales and Midlands behind. I represented a Northern community in Parliament for over 20 years. This matters to me.

“There is a growing concern in places like Doncaster and hard-working towns that were once the engine room of the British economy – that the current set-up no longer works for them, and they are right. For far too long, these communities have been side-lined in favour of more prosperous areas. Our economy needs to work for the whole of the UK and not just London and the South East.

“The Institute is developing a plan to remedy these issues and has brought together a Board capable of facing this challenge head on. We’re determined to change the debate about the best ways to secure growth.”

The full Advisory Board is:

  • Hon Caroline Flint (Chair)– former Minister in the Blair and Brown Governments, Shadow Secretary of State 2010-2015 and MP for Don Valley from 1997-2019.
  • Hon Sir Vince Cable – former Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Secretary of State for Business, as well as former MP for Twickenham.
  • Emma Lewell-Buck MP– Labour MP for South Shields, elected in 2013.
  • John Penrose MP– Conservative MP for Weston-Super-Mare, UK Anti-Corruption champion, and chair of the Conservative Policy Forum.
  • Stephen Kinnock MP– Shadow Minister for Asia and the Pacific and Labour MP for Aberavon, home of the Port Talbot steelworks.
  • Stephanie Peacock MP– Labour MP for Barnsley East and Shadow Minister for Flooding.
  • Nigel Vinson, Baron Vinson– Conservative peer who co-founded the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) and businessman.
  • Professor Stephen Pollock (Viscount Hanworth) – Labour peer and Professor of Econometrics and Computational Statistics at the University of Leicester.
  • John Mills– businessman, economist, and founder of JML.

Founder of the Institute for Prosperity, John Mills, said: “I founded the Institute earlier this year because we can and must do better than we are doing now. For the best part of a decade, our economy has become stagnant at barely 1% growth, productivity continues to slump, and large parts of the country have been left with barely anything to sell to the rest of the world.

“That’s why we’ve appointed a Board made up of some of the most influential and credible names in politics and economics; a team, which bridges across Party lines, that will help turn the dial on the debate around economic growth and manufacturing centre stage of the economic discourse.”

“Our economy is severely unbalanced and is no longer fit for purpose. If we want to pay for the increasing costs of health care, education, and now COVID-19, we need to get the economy growing at a much higher rate. We can only do that by increasing our manufacturing output from 10% to 15% and making it profitable for manufacturers to site new sites here and not anywhere else.

“The disparity between the South East and other regions is already deep and the pandemic has made it deeper. Tomorrow’s generations are going to be much worse off than their parents if we fail to act.

“The UK already doesn’t make enough to sell to the world. If we do not want regions in the North, Midlands, Wales and Scotland to fall further behind, we need a manufacturing resurgence.”

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