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Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY OLIVER CLAY oliver.clay@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @oliv­er­clayRWWN


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

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