UK Regional Productivity Performance

The UK’s productivity challenges are not uniform. They are regional in nature.

Different regions face different challenges to improving productivity, from access to transport infrastructure, the availability of skilled labour, or the sophistication of workplace training. Equally, different parts of the UK have productivity advantages, such as an emphasis on innovation in their local business community, good transport links, or an export-orientated culture. Tailored, localised approaches to productivity challenges and efforts to build on regional advantages may be needed to address the UK’s predicament and improve the country’s performance.

KPMG’s report Improving UK Regional Productivity Performance examines the country’s productivity by region. It explores the performance of twelve UK regions in detail, outlining structural challenges and advantages. It considers the typical characteristics of companies by region, the available infrastructure, and skills/education dynamics. It then proposes ways in which capacity and capability in these areas can be enhanced to promote better productivity.

The report is timely – and not just because of its productivity analysis. Differential economic performance across the UK is a major policy concern. From initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine, through infrastructure investments as varied as HS2 and efforts to improve regional broadband penetration, to the creation of Combined Authorities, new mayoralties and development of new devolution deals for local authorities and communities, recent governments have looked to inject economic life, opportunity and momentum into the regions. The need to do so has, if anything, taken on new urgency. The degree to which the Brexit vote was an expression of regional disenchantment with the economic advantages enjoyed by London and the South East (numbers 1 and 2 in KPMG’s productivity ranking) is well documented.

Policymakers, looking to secure enhanced UK productivity performance, as well as regional businesses, keen to ensure that investments in their part of the country are directed to where they can make a real difference, will find informative and practical commentary in the report. 

*The Year of Disruption follows on from our very successful Years of Digital (shortlisted for an Association Excellence Award), Growth and Diversity. For more information, please visit the Year of Disruption specific hub