All NWBLT members work hard towards the shared goal of making the region the best place to do business live and work. However, the biggest aspect of this mission that must be overcome, is to understand how best to measure the success that we undoubtedly achieving through all of our shared work.
It is excellent to therefore see NWBLT member, Grant Thornton, release the “Vibrant Economy Index – April 2018.” The index states that:
“If the UK is to have a vibrant economy it requires places where people and businesses can flourish. The Vibrant Economy Index seeks to define and measure the components that create these successful areas.”
By creating a tool to measure these areas it is hoped that we will, in the future, drive the discussions between the appropriate parties, stimulate action and most fundamentally, in the opinion of the NWBLT – as a very “place focused organisation” – drive change locally.
It has been the opinion of the NWBLT since our inception in the late 1980s that change is most impactful when it comes locally. In addition to ‘place,’ the report also focuses closely on “vibrancy.” This is a fascinating way by which to measure the state of the UK’s regional economies and provides a very unique lens to measure success. The report includes six index measures that define what a vibrant economy looks like. These include;
- Prosperity, dynamism and opportunity
- Inclusion and equality, healthy
- Wellbeing and happiness
- Resilience and sustainability
- Community, trust and belonging
The report will hopefully have long ranging impacts on policy decisions, both by business and local and national governments. The NWBLT often already considers many of these measures when we are agreeing on a shared stance between our members on any particular policy initiative, it is great to start seeing this best practice being formalised by our member, Grant Thornton.
Atkins, another NWBLT member features in the report. They outline how important this new way of measuring economic growth will be to scientists, planners and engineers. By understanding how their projects will interact with local people in specific places Atkins – and firms like them – can ensure they are acting in a more economically sustainable and sufficient way.
Using the index measures mentioned previously, Grant Thornton have been able to map the UK regions and demonstrate within the regions where there is very low, and where there is very high vibrancy. The map below shows a mixed picture in the North West in terms of vibrancy, with some areas such as Cheshire East performing well above the national vibrancy average, but with many areas, particularly the outer areas of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region performing well below the national average. A mixed picture of economic vibrancy ties into what the NWBLT already know about the state of the North West. It is worth reiterating that, although we strongly advocate for more economic opportunities for the North West as a whole we are always conscious that we are a region of varying economic circumstances.
Grant Thornton have also shared with us a document entitled “Planning for Growth in the North West,“ this report shines a light on the unfortunate chance of businesses in the North West missing out on £7.2 billion of untapped growth in 2018.
The report also points out the economic power of our region, something that is all too often not given the attention it deserves. The region, the report points out, generated a total of £165 billion of GVA in 2016 making it the third highest GVA contributor of all the UK’s 12 regions. Despite this it does acknowledge several barriers to economic growth. The NWBLT is aware of many things that are holding back the potential of the North West to be the best place in which to do business, live and work. It is therefore good to see areas that the NWBLT are focusing on – as we see them as critical to delivering prosperity in the North West – also stated in this report as the biggest barriers to business growth, these include technology, infrastructure, talent and innovation amongst others.
Both of these reports are excellent and exemplify how members of the NWBLT are working very hard within their own fields to make the region the best it can be. We would like to thank Grant Thornton for sharing this report with us and hope you read the reports in full.