Fair growth

Opportunities for economic renewal

8 June 2023

By Ben Franklin and Tanya Singh

3 minute read

Download the report: Fair growth: opportunities for economic renewal

CPP’s new report, Fair growth: opportunities for economic renewal, considers how the UK can create fair growth by analysing its drivers at the local, national and international level.

Growth has flatlined in many developed economies since the financial crash. But even before then, many people were excluded from contributing to or experiencing the benefits of growth. Delivering fair growth that reaches more people and places, seeing productivity and incomes rise everywhere, must be the progressive response.

Across the Atlantic, the Biden administration is already targeting fair growth with its industrial strategy. Keir Starmer has placed a distinct emphasis on fair growth in his missions for government, with plans for a similarly ambitious industrial strategy for the UK. Up to now, less emphasis has been placed on the role of public services in driving fair growth. In our report, CPP argues that both industrial strategy and public service improvements will be needed to drive fair growth.

CPP’s new analysis demonstrates how improvements in health, skills and gender equality in the labour market could deliver significant productivity gains. A new model brings together a 10-year dataset on the drivers of productivity at the local authority level, demonstrating the economic benefits that improvements across these drivers could deliver. CPP’s model shows that by bringing skill levels and life expectancy in lagging areas up to the national average while closing gender employment gaps in all places, the UK could generate an additional £160bn in economic output – equivalent to approximately 7% of GDP.

While the progressive movement has always seen public services as important for reducing inequality and ensuring social justice, CPP argues that a new model for fair growth should put greater emphasis on public services to grow the economy alongside improving the conditions for business investment. Education, childcare and population health are all means to increase productivity growth. In this context, we set out some high-level principles for supporting fair growth:

  • Good jobs not just any jobs: enabling and supporting the growth of good, high value-added employers through nurturing the best of local business and penalising those who flout the rules.
  • A focus on health, not just healthcare: organising local healthcare systems around prevention, recognising the significant impact that wider social factors have on population health.
  • Further education not just higher education: Providing the best education at school and beyond with a particular focus on relevant vocational and technical education.
  • Childcare: making sure parents and children have accessible, affordable childcare to support women’s participation in the labour market.

In the coming months, CPP will be exploring options an incoming government would have for funding a policy platform for fair growth in our new programme, Funding fair growth.