Headlines: March 6th, 2000

The Government has highlighted the size of the workload facing some of the new Regional Development Agencies – and called for a narrowing of the North South divide.The latest regional competitiveness indicators show a complex picture of differences between and within UK regions.

They show that the description ‘north-south’ is far too simplified, and that there are pockets of wealth and poverty in each region.

The Government has indicated that policies must be developed with a view to improving the performance of the poorer regions.

It has promised an active regional policy that falls short of throwing money at failing businesses.

Instead, the DTI has called for a clear economic strategy for each region identifying key challenges and opportunities, followed by targeted government support.

Report findings in brief: Relative levels of GDP per head have not varied much between regions in recent years. The South East and South West appear to have gained at the expense of London. Scotland and Northern Ireland have also seen improvement. The North East, Wales and Northern Ireland have the lowest levels of GDP per head.

RDAs have already been called upon to produce plans for economic development, to be ready by the end of the year (see Publicnet of February 10, 2000; link: www.publicnet.co.uk).

Competitiveness indicators link: www.dti.gov.uk