ESRA_2_jd.jpgRebalancing the UK Economy


Client: UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES)

Rebalancing the economy is a high priority for the UK government, which has set out aims "to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries" going forward – but there is little clarity or consistency in exactly what 'rebalancing' means. Added to this, there has not been a clear articulation of the rationale for intervention in the 'rebalancing' process, how 'rebalancing' might be achieved most effectively, and how the inherent tensions and trade-offs in addressing different elements of the 'rebalancing' challenge should be managed.

In light of this, SQW was commissioned by UKCES to review conceptual, empirical, policy and evaluation literature on 'rebalancing the economy sectorally and spatially' from the UK and abroad. The study explored number of challenging questions around the 'rebalancing' debate, including:

  • the nature and scale of the 'rebalancing' challenge in the UK, and its causes
  • the rationale for state intervention in the sectoral and spatial structure of the economy
  • types of interventions that have been employed by governments to influence the sectoral and geographical structure of the economy, what works and why.

Five international case studies were also produced, of Finland, Sweden, Germany, Korea, and the Netherlands to identify lessons for the UK. The review was undertaken in partnership with Geoff White Inc., Cambridge Econometrics, the Institute for Employment Research, and the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies.

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