Tackling regional economic disparities has been a priority of successive governments in both the UK and Scotland.
The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy is their latest attempt, with regional growth 1 of 5 ‘foundations of success’. Here in Scotland, ‘cohesion’ – or its new term ‘regional inclusive growth’ – has been a feature of the Scottish Government’s Economic Strategy since 2007.
It is hard to disagree that a country will be economically stronger if every region has the opportunity to fulfil its potential.
However, Scottish and UK policy history is littered with well-intentioned – but ultimately ill-fated – attempts to narrow the gap in economic performance between regions. Many of the challenges are deep-rooted and structural, whilst attempts to tackle them throw-up challenging trade-offs and political risks.