The UK economy is driven by London and the south-east, and by the financial sector. Too many parts of the country are in danger of being left behind – and the damage done by careless deindustrialisation in the 1980s still hasn’t been repaired. Meanwhile cuts to public spending have hollowed out the public services people rely on.
We need more good jobs in all regions and nations of the UK. That means switching to an investment-first economy, where delivering high productivity and skilled jobs with decent pay is the test of economic success. The government has to set out a strategy and long-term vision for British industry, to make the most of new opportunities in the high-tech and green industries of the future. That means companies interested in long-term sustainable growth that benefits everybody, and government support to help emerging sectors flourish.
Getting it right means developing the skills of today’s workers so they can navigate change. It means managing new technology and automation in the interests of workers so the rewards from work are fairly shared. And it means getting workers’ voices heard at the highest levels within their companies – including in the boardrooms.
An economy that works for working people is one where there are great jobs in all parts of the UK, and where the UK can fund the high-quality public services that we all need.
Workers have suffered from a lost decade of wage growth. While the jobs recovery has been strong, the wage recovery has been agonisingly slow. Wages in 2016 were still 4% lower in real terms than they were a decade before, and they are falling again.
The 2017 General Election has engulfed Westminster in a wave of chaos and uncertainty. The local and mayoral elections held in May might therefore feel like a distant memory. But some parts of England that now have mayors with devolved powers have been getting to work, with unions at the table.