Professor John Bachtler gave a critical assessment of the prospects for a coherent approach to regional policy in the UK after Brexit in a presentation to the Cross-Party Group on Industrial Communities in the Scottish Parliament on 20 December 2017. Drawing on EPRC research conducted under the EoRPA research programme, he noted that the renewed concern with inequality in the UK is shared in other, but that regional disparities in the UK are higher than elsewhere in Europe, that these are long-standing and growing, and that there are both economic and social factors that need to be considered.
The regional impact of Brexit is uncertain, dependent on the evolution of trade, investment and labour flows among other factors, but there is likely to be (possibly significant) sectoral adjustment, with differential spatial effects. The recent UK Industrial Strategy and the Scottish Government’s Enterprise & Skills Review both recognise the importance of ‘place’, but in both cases it appears to be secondary to sectoral policy objectives.
Benchmarks for assessing how regional policy develops include whether the political rhetoric of objectives is matched by the resources and commitment to implementation, the degree to which policy goals are social and sustainable as well as economic, whether a coherent and stable institutional framework for the whole of the UK emerges, and whether statements about bottom-up development or responding to the needs of different areas means real local engagement and empowerment.
For further information, please contact Professor John Bachtler.