The Government was elected last December and quickly moved to place the forgotten towns and regions at the heart of their policy to ‘level up’ the UK economy promoting opportunities and choice.
In the Chancellors first budget there were massive spending plans on infrastructure projects to connect the UK and enable the levelling up process.
David Smith wrote in the Sunday Times quoting the EY survey into inward Foreign Investment and the UK’s digital economy.
In the year of actual Brexit, France, for the first time, narrowly overtook the UK for inward Foreign Investment. The UK has always been attractive to foreign investors due to English language, the pool of talent and more flexible labour laws. Naturally, many foreign investors want access to the single market and Brexit has deterred them.
That is not true of inward foreign digital investment.
The UK won 30% of all EU foreign direct investment projects in the digital sector. That is more than France and Germany combined. It makes sense because digital technology is less reliant on single market membership.
London attracted 69% of the UK’s digital projects due to its infrastructure, talent pool and tech cluster and that was nearly half of all the foreign investment into digital.
The Government has a strategy for digital rebalancing to regional cities and smaller towns that previously benefited from investment from the likes of Honda (Swindon), Nissan (Sunderland) and Toyota (Burnaston). Car manufacturing is under enormous stress and therefore there is a need for diversification into the industries of the future such as digital technology.
The Covid-19 pandemic has blown a massive hole in the Government’s ability to invest in its strategy. For many businesses, the short term is about survival not growth.
But what the pandemic has also highlighted is the ability for remote working so what was the obvious option of setting up in expensive Shoreditch or Silicon Roundabout you can now do in Stourbridge, Stockport, St Ives, Stockton-on-Tees, Stranraer or Stoke.
What you will need is the talent.
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