With the exception of London, the Edinburgh city region is the most prosperous in the UK, and has tremendous strengths in key sectors such as finance, life sciences, tourism and an emerging high-tech sector. Our region has been remarkably resilient in recent austere times. We have now had 14 consecutive years of steady growth, and that would suggest that we are doing a lot of things right.
So if we are so successful, why do we need a city region deal from Government? There are many threats to our sustained growth that are holding back our potential: not least productivity and inequality. Our productivity consistently lags behind cities with similar international regional economies - such as Copenhagen, Munich and Dublin – and the global competition is increasing. Meanwhile within the region, inequality is the biggest issue we face. One in five households lives in poverty, and half of the people living in poverty are already in work.
A city region deal would create conditions for more productive, high value jobs that everyone can access. There is huge potential through simply working more effectively together as a region, and exploiting regional synergies through cross-regional transport, innovation and skills packages. Opening up these opportunities would provide citizens with the skills they need to access new job and training opportunities to lift their earning capacity, while at the same time making the region more attractive for investment and the creation of more jobs.
As Scotland’s capital city region, we must demonstrate how, whilst we are thriving we also have a key role to play in ensuring continued sustained economic growth. We can’t take our success for granted, and our shared vision is clear: we must invest in success. Edinburgh needs its city region and its city region needs Edinburgh – the future of the South east of Scotland and Scotland as a whole depends on a city region wide deal.
So I urge all regional businesses to please join the growing list who have pledged support for the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region deal.
Hugh Rutherford, Chair of Edinburgh Business Forum and Director of Montagu-Evans