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Skills, transport and place leadership are key to Powering Up UK regional growth

28 November 2018

Focusing on skills, transport and place leadership is key for unlocking regional growth, according to Deloitte’s latest Power Up report, published today. The report, which examines how all regions and nations can contribute to the long-term success of the UK, includes experts’ views and analysis of past regional successes and challenges.

Looking at productivity growth rates for industry sectors, Deloitte found that if the fastest growth rates had been replicated across the UK since 1997, this would be worth an additional £263bn – or nearly £10,000 for every household, to the national economy by now.

Deloitte interviewed more than 50 business leaders, educators, local government officials and other influential figures in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the eight English regions outside London to assess how this potential could be unlocked.

Pauline Biddle, managing partner for UK regions at Deloitte, says: “This report has taken the overall topic of productivity to help identify where we can maximise opportunities by learning from the past. Our countries and regions are diverse, and combine heritage and new growth in their own way. What’s clear is that there are themes that resonate across all the stakeholders we spoke to: the need for investment in infrastructure, a skilled workforce and place-based strategies.”

The overwhelming sentiment from the business leaders was the need for investment, particularly in infrastructure and skills.

Angus Knowles-Cutler, Vice Chairman and London Office Senior Partner at Deloitte, says:
“Skills are at the heart of this report and from an economics point of view, regions have seen remarkable success in generating work, creating seven million jobs since 1982 and taking employment to record levels. However, it is imperative the UK anticipates what skills we will need in 10-15 years.”

Infrastructure was also cited by experts as essential for future growth. Too many places were said to be reliant upon an outdated transport and rail system. Improved connectivity is fundamental to long-term economic competitiveness and labour market mobility.

Biddle explains: “We were told loud and clear that in order to grow and attract business, and to embed new ways of working and technologies, that the infrastructure must be fit for purpose.”

Place leadership
Finally, the report found that while places have their own distinctive range of challenges and opportunities, none of them will achieve their maximum potential without successful leadership. Place leadership structures must develop strong compelling visions about how their long-term success can be supported.

Knowles-Cutler adds: “The UK’s industrial strategy is already pretty well advanced. However, Government needs to understand the local economy and support LEPs (local enterprise partnerships). This is quite urgent as LEPs play a front and centre role in this dialogue. Operating like a triangle consisting of businesses, policy makers and educators - LEPs working in unison at a national and regional level will be the sweet spot for success.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, concludes: “Business needs to see a clear devolution framework, action to advance educational attainment, and a focus on regional infrastructure. These foundations - combined with continuing collaboration between policymakers and business leaders - will help ensure that we make the most of this opportunity to create a healthy and balanced UK economy.”

For further details and analysis of each nation and region, please see here.


Note to editors

About the Power Up report
The report consulted and interviewed more than 50 business leaders, educators, local government officials and other influential figures in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the eight English regions outside London. The report describes each UK region and nation’s economic performance. It investigates strengths and weaknesses and outlines a series of proposed actions, deriving from discussions with senior business leaders that can help to raise the contribution of many regions to a new level.

The regions and nations are:

  • East of England;
  • East Midlands;
  • North East;
  • North West;
  • Northern Ireland;
  • Scotland;
  • South East;
  • South West;
  • West Midlands;
  • Yorkshire and Humber; and
  • Wales.

About the Power Up data
The 15 sectors analysed:

  • Agriculture, mining, and utilities;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Construction;
  • Wholesale and retail trade;
  • Transport and storage;
  • Accommodation and food service;
  • Information and communication;
  • Financial and insurance activities;
  • Professional, scientific and technical activities;
  • Administrative and support services;
  • Public administration;
  • Education;
  • Human health and social work; 
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation; and 
  • Other service activities.

All data is sourced from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), some publicly available, others under license agreement.

The employment numbers are from 1982 to 2017.

The productivity (as measured by output per hour worked) numbers are from 1997 to 2015 across 15 industries and all regions. The change in productivity is analysed across three different time frames – pre-crisis (1997-2007), post-crisis (2007-2015) and overall (1997-2015). The annual UK productivity is the average of the productivity numbers for the four quarters. The UK productivity for each industry is the based on the average of all the regional numbers for each industry.

Interviews were conducted with:

  • Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General 
  • David Noon, Global Brexit Lead, Deloitte
  • Ian Stewart, Deloitte Chief UK Economist 
  • Sir Howard Bernstein Strategic Business Adviser to Deloitte
  • Angus Knowles-Cutler, UK Vice Chairman, Deloitte
  • Pauline Biddle, managing partner for UK regions, Deloitte
  • Business leaders in Wales

About Deloitte
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

For more information, please visit

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

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