HALTON is due to be the area hit hardest by Brexit according to a Heseltine Institute report commissioned by the TUC.
The document cited figures from a London School Of Economics And Politics (LSE) study that forecasted a 1.5% hit to the borough’s gross value added (GVA) under a so-called soft Brexit and 2.8% under a hardBrexit.
Halton’s GVA in 2013 was £2.3bn, meaning the soft to hard range above represents a loss to the area’s economy of about £34.5m to £64.4m.
According to the LSE figures, Halton will be clobbered the most in the Liverpool City Region (LCR).
The other five districts face a loss of 1.1-1.2% under a soft Brexit and a range of 2.1-2.8% under a hard Brexit.
The TUC’s report, entitled ‘How to deliver great jobs: towards a regional industrial strategy for Liverpool City Region’, added that the impact of leaving the European Union (EU) is already being felt in hits to business investment, with one chamber of commerce reporting that firms had already stopped investing because most are foreign-owned.
Authors of the study said the LCR has longstanding problems to contend with such as high unemployment, low productivity, pockets of entrenched deprivation and a weak skills base, as well as upcoming challenges including ongoing public sector austerity and the loss of £100m a year of funds from the EU.
It said there were opportunities in the LCR’s devolution of powers and funding which could be used to create jobs and the chance to ● ‘pursue inclusive growth, so that Liverpool’s bedrock sectors, like manufacturing and the visitor economy, have the support needed to create better quality jobs’.
The report suggested that a trend towards high density city housing could be a means to spark economic activity, as it noted that the city’s population has dropped to under 500,000 now from 860,000 in 1931 and that part of this was due to the migration of 160,000 residents to ‘lower density’ outlying towns including Runcorn.
It said this was important because ‘population and population density help stimulate enterprise and economic activity’.
Despite the report’s stark fears over aspects of the economy, it was broadly optimistic about the impact of city region devolution.
Lynn Collins, TUC regional secretary for North West England, said: “We want working people to be able to get skilled work that’s close to home, pays well and gives them the chance to get on in life.
“We must build on our bedrock industries, like manufacturing and tourism, so they have support and trained workers to deliver more great quality jobs.
“And we must draw on Liverpool’s proud heritage of creativity to innovate new approaches.
“Devolution must not just be a transfer of power from one level of government to another.
“It must be about giving workers more of a say in shaping the economy too.
“That’s why new partnership bodies for unions, employers and Government are such an important part of the plan.”
Dr Alan Southern, from the Heseltine Institute For Public Policy And Practice at The University Of Liverpool, said: “Industrial strategy must address the UK’s regional inequalities.
“Our research suggests that devolution can frame that debate.
“With Liverpool City Region’s new powers, we can choose policies that help make work more secure.
“And we can choose to spend public funds in ways that improve economic and social outcomes.
“We found a will, and a momentum, to support approaches by the metro mayor and combined authority that improve locals business and the quality of work.
“We have strong industries, such as a highly productive manufacturing sector, and an economically important public sector.
“The challenge is to bring more benefits from these sectors to local people.
“While devolution can play a major role, it must be backed by action from central government to tackle work insecurity.
“And we should consider the case for greater devolution, so we can take more control through local democracy, and choose to invest more in modern infrastructure and supporting small businesses.”
Lynn Collins, North West regional secretary of