Senior academics, policy makers, local government officials and business people have gathered in Rochdale for the launch of a major new report written by experts from The University of Manchester.
On Productivity seeks to understand and address gaps in economic performance across the UK. For example, 2019 research found that Greater Manchester’s productivity was 89% of the UK average, falling from 92.2% in 1998.
The report asks why such disparities exist, and what can be done about them. It includes recommendations on how to level up the country locally, regionally and nationally.
The launch event included two round tables, led by leading academics in their fields. Professor Richard Jones chaired a session on research and development and its role in levelling up, while Dr Luke Munford led a discussion on the causes and implications of health inequality.
Now, more than ever before, we live in an unequal country. Where we live shapes our health, our wealth, and our prosperity. This is not fair and should not be allowed to happen. As academics, we can highlight the problems and injustices - but we really need to work with colleagues from local and national government to design and implement solutions.
"On Productivity sets out some potential solutions and I was delighted to be able to speak to colleagues in Rochdale and across Greater Manchester about what we can do to tackle these health inequalities and to give everyone a fair chance."
The choice of venue for the launch was appropriate, as Rochdale Borough gears up to play a leading role in Greater Manchester’s levelling up agenda.
Through initiatives like Atom Valley - the largest and most important growth location in Greater Manchester, focused on advanced manufacturing, machinery and materials - Rochdale aims to turbocharge innovation in the region while providing good jobs and new houses for local residents.
Councillor John Blundell, Cabinet Member for Economy and Communications at Rochdale Borough Council and RDA Board member, said: "On Productivity is a serious piece of academic research and asks searching questions about regional inequality and concepts around levelling up and rebalancing the economy.
"It speaks volumes about Rochdale’s progress and its commitment to sustainable economic development - through projects like Atom Valley - that The University of Manchester chose to launch such an important report in the Borough."
The event was organised by Policy@Manchester - part of The University of Manchester - supported by the Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement project.