Trade union body calls for devolution in East Anglia to ‘bridge regional divide’ on jobs
- Credit: PA
Power must be devolved to workers in Suffolk and Norfolk to reinvigorate industry and bridge a “great regional divide” on jobs, a new report urges.
A study published by the TUC calls for funding to be invested back into regional communities – using the workforce to drive up pay, productivity and skills.
To do this, the report – called Great Jobs in Great Places – recommends businesses reverse cuts to government investment per employee, which fell by 13.6% between 2007 and 2015, and allow local and regional authorities to shape how funds are used.
It suggests devolved adult education budgets should help workers who are unemployed, on low wages or facing redundancy to access free training.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Whole communities have been abandoned for a generation without the investment they need to build a strong local economy. It has left millions of people stuck in dead-end jobs that don’t pay a decent wage. They deserve better.”
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Based on research carried out in Norfolk and Suffolk, Liverpool and Tees Valley the study found Britain was “riven” with inequalities, with men’s pay in older industrial areas £200 a month below the national average.
It suggests Suffolk and Norfolk have high levels of employment but low wages, low productivity and high inequality.
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Emphasis is placed on the role of an aging population, and the research finds the two counties are characterised by the “worst income inequality” in the UK.
The study adds that devolution should not be about passing down the burden of cuts, but rather about enabling local governments and working people to take control.
An earlier piece of analysis focused on Suffolk and Norfolk informed the creation of Great Jobs in Great Places.
It exposed “serious issues” in the region’s manufacturing industry, warning that where productivity had increased, it had often been accompanied by redundancies, stagnant wages and extra pressure on workers.
The research followed a decision by Delphi Diesel Systems to close its Sudbury factory, with the loss of more than 500 jobs.
A spokesman for the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), who were praised for their work in the earlier study but were warned the group may need to change to meet new criteria, said: “New Anglia LEP engaged with the TUC as part of the development of this report.
“We continue to engage with the TUC as we prepare to launch a new Economic Strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk later this month.”
Ms O’Grady is due to present the Great Jobs in Great Places report to business leaders today.
She added: “To unlock the potential of every part of the UK, we need to change how the economy works.
“That means devolving power and funding back to working people and their communities.”