Strategy for fair growth could boost GDP by 7%

8 June 2023

A new report by economics thinktank the Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP) demonstrates how a strategy for fair growth that targets improvements in health, skills and gender equality in the labour market could deliver significant productivity gains.

New analysis of a 10-year dataset on the drivers of productivity at the local authority level, demonstrates the economic benefits that improvements in these domains could deliver.

CPP calculates 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.

CPP focuses on how to deliver fair growth, and has been working closely with the Labour party in recent months to help develop their plans to achieve their mission for growth. The report, Fair growth: opportunities for economic renewal, sets out a vision for what fair growth is and how it can be delivered.

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 argues that delivering fair growth requires 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 the continual advancement of this agenda:

  • 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.
  • Accessible, quality childcare: Making sure children and parents have accessible and affordable local early years support.