Following last week’s shocking growth figures for the UK economy, there are increasing calls for the government to have a clearer plan for growth.
In fact for decades now the UK has relied too heavily on the financial sector to be the main engine of growth – accounting for more than a quarter of all GDP before the crash, it’s no wonder we’re hurting more now than comparable economies.
Take Germany for example - the self-made heart of European industry - which was better able to absorb losses during the recession, and is flourishing again.
Our financial sector will probably never recover to quite the precedence it held in the world before 2008, and so it is essential that we rebalance our economy. My feeling is that we must have a clear design for our economy - how we can bring out our highest potential.
The drivers of economic growth and thus job creation must be in the areas we know Britain needs to develop. We need to do everything we can do develop the Northern economies and redress the London-centric imbalance of our economy. An extensive high-speed rail network that connected up all the Northern cities with London would strengthen the regions. We need to make the transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources – because prices can only rise from now on - we need broadband internet, and flood defences; we need more prison buildings – these projects could create decent jobs for thousands of people.
The government’s current strategy seems to be just to let the private sector work it out for itself.
But although we don’t have the money to set these works in motion, if we had a coherent national plan we could go out to private investors all over the world, and say ‘this is what we’re going to do; there’s a guaranteed market if not a guaranteed return, do you want to be a part of it?’
And the UK must play up to its strengths – we are still world leaders in science and technology, architecture and construction, chemicals, pharmacology, and aerospace.
Only when the government shows real leadership and vision will confidence be restored.