What could the Adonis Review do for growth Britain?

We look into the Labour politician’s report on ways to fix the UK’s “fractured economy”…

Last week Lord Andrew Adonis, Labour peer and party politician, unveiled his independent review of Britain’s “growth problem”.

Entitled Mending the fractured economy; smarter state, better jobs, the report called for increased involvement from government and local authorities to help British firms “grow, find the skilled workers they require, and export”.

Suggesting that Britain’s economic “struggle’ relates to a lack of research and development (R&D) funding, youth unemployment, the balance of payments deficit, and a disparity of job creation between London and the rest of the UK, key proposals of the review are as follows:

Government to commit to long-term funding

In order to boost British innovation, Adonis calls for greater government state funding for research and development (R&D) and a 10 year strategy to capitalise upon research conducted by the Technology Strategy Board. The review also points to a need for development of additional Catapult Centres to support research in “key growth areas” such as manufacturing and cell therapy. Adonis also believes government should implement a ‘Small Business Administration’ department which would promote state contracting with smaller firms – up to 25% of contracts.

Support of local regions and Local Enterprise Partnerships

The review proposes a need for better support of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP’s) and encourages greater collaboration with local authorities at city and council level. Adonis also argues for the creation of new statutory authorities, city and regional, and to give these ‘combined authorities’ the power to set business rates in return for infrastructure investments to drive regional growth.

Skills

The Adonis review views expansion of training and education for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) subjects as essential to “solve the skills mismatch”. It asks for new apprenticeship courses, improved links between schools and employers, and the establishment of additional University Technology Colleges.

Growth capital and exports

The report pushes for an increase of growth capital to be made available to businesses outside of London and the South East which it advises the government should facilitate by funding private and angel investors. Increasing exports is also suggested as central to Britain’s growth with the review arguing for “better” exports advice from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and UK Export finance.

Adonis recommendations in brief:

  • Government to develop a national growth strategy.
  • Reform the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
  • Budgets for science and Technology Strategy Board to be priorities.
  • 10 year strategy to increase number of Catapult Centres and innovation platforms.
  • Set up a ‘Small Business Administration’ department to promote small businesses across government.
  • Scale up the Small Business Research Initiative.
  • Increase the proportion of government procurement with small and medium sized businesses to 25 % of prime contracts directly with government.
  • Reform LEP’s.
  • Encourage the setting up of city and county region ‘Combined Authorities’.
  • Devolve the revenue from Business Rates to Combined Authorities.
  • Triple funding devolved to city and county regions to at least £6bn per year.
  • Increase number of high quality apprenticeships for young people and treble the number of STEM youth apprenticeships by 2020.
  • National government, local government and NHS to increase number of public sector apprenticeships in technical roles for young people.
  • Funding for apprenticeships should only be provided to employers for schemes accredited by professional bodies.
  • Establish at least 100 University Technical Colleges by 2020 focused on growth areas of the economy.
  • Introduce a new national ‘Teach Next’ recruitment and teacher training scheme for experienced career switchers, focused on STEM subjects.
  • Every secondary school in England to appoint a full-time director of enterprise and employment.
  • Further education colleges to focus strongly on teaching technician-level skills.
  • UK Export Finance and UKTI need to become “more ambitious” in way they support exporters.
  • LEP’s should promote the Business Angel Co-investment Fund in regions outside of the South East.
  • Develop a regional network of Small Business Investment companies.
  • Extend the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme to make it available via alternative finance providers, such as peer-to-peer lenders.

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