Our Comment: UK industrial strategy needs to learn from the West Midlands

Like many of our partners, members, and networks over the last month or so we have attended a variety of consultation events, roundtables and discussions about developing the UK industrial strategy.

We have provided a detailed response, which you can read here.

However, when composing the response and recommendations it was striking to consider how further along the West Midlands was in its thinking and action compared to UK policy.

So what follows is a selective look at some of our recommendations for the UK Government and Industrial policy and then how the West Midlands scores. The results may surprise you.

Direction of strategy – Refine the overall objective of the strategy so rather than economic growth being a goal, instead it is supporting overall wider social and environmental goals.

UK Government 5/10 – does talk about economic growth supporting living standards.

West Midlands 8/10 – the WMCA SEP includes the 3 sustainability 2020 roadmap goals within the 7 goals for the regional economic strategy, thus reducing the health inequalities and carbon reduction are alongside economic productivity.

Monitoring of strategy – To assess investment and impact to deliver the UK industrial strategy against the three key headline indicators of productivity GVA measures, carbon reduction and the health inequality gap between the worst and best areas.

UK Government 3/10 – only talks about monitoring economic growth

West Midlands 7/10 – the WMCA SEP includes monitoring reducing the health inequalities and carbon reduction alongside economic productivity.

Content of strategy – Strengthen the role of resource efficiency and the circular economy within the strategy and the role of the Environmental Goods and Services sector within the strategy as an underlying ‘enabler’

UK Government 5/10 – there is a pillar focused on energy

West Midlands 7/10 – the WMCA SEP includes out of the 4 market priorities, one of them around the environment including energy, waste, and the the wider low carbon sector.

The role of independent bodies – the role of independent sustainability bodies promoting clusters and networks to drive productivity.

UK Government 5/10 – there is some recognition of the importance of independent partnerships and bodies to help promote local clusters and networks.

West Midlands 8/10 – the WMCA SEP recognises a range of existing independent local bodies such as Science City and Sustainability West Midlands, as vital in their role in promoting local networks and clusters.

Overall score UK Government 18/40 vs West Midlands 30/40

So whoever, becomes our Mayor in May, they are inheriting a local economic strategy, that although not perfect, is currently miles ahead of UK thinking, they just now need to get us all to work together to deliver it.

Dr Simon Slater, on behalf of the SWM team.