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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

IPPR Commission on Economic Justice

Calls for evidence

Open calls

Devolving Power to the Nations of the UK and Regions of England

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice is investigating how greater power over economic policy could be devolved to the nations of the UK and the regions of England. The UK has the most geographically unbalanced economy in Europe, with London and the Southeast too dominant, and significant assets outside of London not fully utilised. How can the devolution of economic powers and resources tackle this problem? This is one of a series of inter-related projects which will contribute to the Commission’s final report.

The project will focus on developing solutions rather than further description of the problem. Drawing together the large body of research IPPR has already produced analysing the UK’s uneven economic geography, the project will seek to develop a long-term devolution settlement which, by 2030, shifts significant economic power to the nations of the UK and regions of England. The aim is to realise the economic potential of the whole country, delivering inclusive and sustainable growth for all.

Each nation and region is clearly very different and will be treated separately. The project will be organised in two halves: one setting out a programme of potential further devolution to the UK nations; the other tackling the question of the English regions. This will then be tied together into a single coherent plan for the whole of the UK.

We accept that the 2030 settlement will likely be somewhat asymmetrical, and we don’t consider that to be a problem in itself. But we do believe greater coherence in relation to devolution within the UK can be achieved.

Equally, we accept that there are live constitutional questions within the UK, not least the independence debate in Scotland, and the Brexit effect in Northern Ireland. Our work to consider devolution of economic power within the UK does not preclude any future outcomes from these constitutional debates, and indeed our findings may be relevant to them.

Questions to which we are keen to receive responses include, but are not limited to:

  1. What has been the role of central government policy and the UK’s past and current governance arrangements in creating the unevenness in the UK’s economic geography?

    a. How closely are governance arrangements related to geographic concentrations of economic activity? What is the evidence on this both in the UK and in other countries?\

    b. To what extent have apparently centralised economic policy and passive industrial strategy contributed to the dominance of London in the UK’s economic geography?

    c. How have other countries approached this differently and with what results?
  2. Which powers are needed by nations, regions and sub-regions in order to drive inclusive and sustainable growth which utilises all of the UK’s assets?

    a. Which economic policy powers, or ‘drivers of growth’, are best exercised by nations, regions and sub-regions? Which economic powers should go to which level of government?

    b. Which other areas of public policy should be considered for devolution, where they are not already devolved, for the purpose of achieving inclusive and sustainable growth?

    c. Which (additional) fiscal powers should be devolved, to which levels, and how can this be achieved given geographical differences in economic performance?

    d. Which powers to intervene in the labour market should be considered as appropriate for devolution?

    e. How should industrial strategy be organised on a geographic basis?

    f. How should the departments of the UK government, especially the Treasury, be governed and reformed in order to align the interests of central government with those of the UK’s constituent nations and regions?
  3. How can devolution be achieved in practice?

    a. By 2030, what should be the settlement – which powers should be at which tier of governance? How can we bring coherence, while also allowing for asymmetry, within the devolved settlement in the UK?

    b. How should this be sequenced, and how should the pace and process of devolution account for differing levels of capacity and democratic legitimacy needed to take on powers in different parts of the UK?

    c. What can be learned from the experience of other countries which have pursued devolution (Canada, Japan and France for example)?

    d. What long-term framework and principles should political parties across the UK set out to guide this process through to completion?

    e. How should any new structures relate to existing ones, and how should policy-makers decide where to draw regional and sub-regional boundaries?

    f. What safeguards should be put in place?

    g. What should be the next steps for each nation and region of the UK?

This project is separate from, but closely related to, our ongoing work on industrial strategy, automation, migration and skills. We will be aligning the findings of these papers in the final report of the Commission on Economic Justice.

We welcome submissions focusing on individual questions and issues as well as those addressing the field as a whole. We would be glad to receive work which has already been published or otherwise already written but which we may not have seen. We are also very happy to receive papers pre-publication and will of course treat these however the authors wish.

We particularly welcome submissions specific to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, together with specific England regions. This project is being led by IPPR North and IPPR Scotland, who will be working hard to ensure the project is inclusive of all parts of the UK. Please let us know if you are interested in our programme of engagement.

Closed calls

Industrial strategy

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice is seeking evidence for its project on industrial strategy. This is one of a series of inter-related projects which will contribute to the Commission’s interim and final reports. Most such projects will also result in the publication of working papers for wider debate.

The focus of the Commission’s work on industrial strategy is how public policy interventions can support or develop certain sectors or combinations of sectors of the economy, with the aim of enhancing investment, productivity and economic growth, and sharing the gains from growth more equitably across the UK’s nations, regions and socio-economic groups.

With this in mind, we are pleased to issue a call for evidence to inform the future of industrial strategy in the UK. Given the recent Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Committee inquiry into this issue, we would particularly welcome submissions that add new evidence or arguments to the debate. 

Questions to which we are keen to receive responses include:

  • At the level of the firm, what might explain the UK’s longstanding poor productivity performance?
  • Why have previous attempts to invigorate the UK’s supply side – particularly outside of London and the South East – failed or not been sustained?  
  • What evidence is there on both successful and unsuccessful industrial strategies in other countries, and what can we learn from these in relation to the UK?
  • In which sectors or parts of the economy should industrial strategy be focused, and why?
  • What are the key approaches and policies – at both national and subnational level – which an effective industrial strategy should adopt?
  • What kind of policies and approaches can be used to revive depressed and de-industrialised areas?

We are pursuing separate projects on corporate governance reform, the provision of ‘patient’ capital, the devolution of economic policy, and education and skills. These areas will therefore not be included in this project, but will be aligned with the industrial policy framework we develop. Several of these projects will issue their own calls for evidence in due course; a call for evidence on corporate governance has already closed.

We welcome submissions focusing on individual questions and issues as well as those addressing the field as a whole. We would be glad to receive work which has already been published or otherwise already written but which we may not have seen.

Corporate governance

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice is seeking evidence for its project on corporate governance. This is one of a series of inter-related projects which will contribute to the Commission’s interim and final reports. Most such projects will also result in the publication of working papers for wider debate.

The focus of the project is whether and how reform of corporate governance could address long-standing structural weaknesses in the British economy, especially our low investment rates and high levels of inequality, and can give a stronger voice to employees and other stakeholders.

Given both the Government’s ongoing consultation on this subject, as well as the extensive submissions to the Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Committee inquiry on this issue, we would particularly welcome submissions that add new evidence or arguments to the debate.  We would be glad to receive submissions made to the Government’s consultation which have not yet been made publicly available.
 
Key questions and areas of interest include:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the UK’s current model of corporate governance?
  • Why have past efforts to undertake substantive reform not succeeded, and how can we learn from these? 
  • Evidence on the relationship between alternative models of corporate governance and business performance
  • Proposals for reform of corporate governance which incorporate the interests and representation of stakeholders other than shareholders
  • Proposals for the reform of executive pay
  • Proposals for public policy on rules governing company takeovers

We welcome submissions focusing on individual questions and issues as well as those addressing the field as a whole. We would be glad to receive work which has already been published or written but which we may not have seen.

Financing investment

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice is seeking evidence for its project on Financing Investment. This is one of a series of inter-related projects which will contribute to the Commission’s interim and final reports. Most of these projects will also be published as standalone working papers for wider debate.

The focus of the project is on the role of finance in the economy. We want to explore the ways in which the financial services industry, as it is currently constituted, helps deliver our broader economic objectives, namely: increased productivity; regionally balanced growth and better jobs. By channeling investment into the ‘real economy’, the financial sector is critical to both the near term success of the Government’s proposed industrial strategy, and indeed the long-term success of the British economy as a whole. But the myopic tendencies of financial firms, and the systemic risks inherent in our financial sector’s size and significance within the economy, may be hindering the sector’s ability to perform this role.

Given the Government’s forthcoming consultation on this subject as part of the Treasury’s patient capital review,  we would particularly welcome submissions that add new evidence or argument to the debate.

Questions to which we are keen to receive responses include:

  • What are the characteristics of a ‘good’, or ‘efficient’ financial sector?
  • Beyond systemic risk, what are the benefits and (opportunity) costs of the UK’s large financial sector? Has its growth over the last few decades translated into improved access to credit for firms?
  • How does credit access in the UK compare to other countries in the OECD?
  • What is the evidence that investment myopia is solely a British (or Anglo-Saxon) problem? And how have other countries dealt with it?
  • How easy is it for highly innovative firms to access funding (whether through equity or credit markets)? Are funding opportunities regionally sensitive?
  • What are the inefficiencies in private infrastructure-funding? To what extent are inefficiencies causes by the regulatory framework, or monopolies, or both?
  • To what extent are investments in both the housing stock and the financial sector itself ‘crowding out’ investments in the ‘real economy’.

We are pursuing separate projects on corporate governance reform, industrial strategy, the devolution of economic policy, and education and skills. These areas will therefore not be included in this project, although they remain closely aligned. Several of these projects will issue their own calls for evidence; those for industrial strategy and corporate governance have already closed.

We welcome submissions focusing on individual questions and issues as well as those addressing the field as a whole. We would be glad to receive work which has already been published or otherwise already written but which we may not have seen.

Automation

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice is seeking evidence for its project on automation and the economy. This is one of a series of inter-related projects which will contribute to the Commission’s interim and final reports. Most such projects will also result in the publication of working papers for wider debate.

The focus of the project is the potential impacts of the substitution of labour by capital in the economy driven by the accelerating automation of both cognitive and physical work.  We will examine the combination of technologies likely to drive increasing automation, and what their impacts are likely to be in terms of the quantity and type of work in the economy and the distribution of the economic gains and losses. We will then suggest how public policy should best respond to maximise the benefits of accelerating automation and temper its less desirable effects.

Key questions and areas of interest in terms of the potential effects and policy responses to automation include:

  • What are the key technologies driving change?
  • What is the potential for significant productivity gains in key sectors as a result of automation and associated technological change?
  • What is the likely scale and impact of the loss of significant numbers of current jobs (in service sectors and professional occupations as well as in manufacturing sectors) and the distribution of these losses across sectors, regions and socio-economic groups?
  • How is the nature of work and therefore the labour force requirements of education and skills likely to change due to technological improvements?
  • How is automation likely to change the nature and distribution of income, and potentially of working time?
  • Will automation increase the concentration of income and wealth as a result of increasing returns to high-level, niche and intellectual / creative skills, and to the ownership of capital, and if so, on what scale?
  • What should the goals for public policy be in response to automation the next ten to fifteen years? 
  • What approaches, instruments, policies and institutions are available to governments to bring about these public policy goals?

We welcome submissions focusing on individual questions and issues as well as those addressing the field as a whole. We would be glad to receive work which has already been published or written but which we may not have seen.

Immigration

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice is seeking evidence for its project on immigration. This is one of a series of inter-related projects which will contribute to the Commission’s interim and final reports. It will result in the publication of a discussion paper for wider debate.
 
The Commission’s work in this area will focus on creating a new immigration policy for post-Brexit Britain. We will look at how immigration policy can be shaped in order to contribute to a balanced, dynamic and just economy.
 
With this in mind, we are pleased to issue a call for evidence to inform the Commission’s work. We would welcome submissions that bring new evidence or arguments to the debate, as well as existing ideas and proposals for redesigning our immigration system post-Brexit. 
 
Questions to which we are keen to receive responses include:

  • How should future labour migration be designed to contribute to a balanced, dynamic and just economy post-Brexit? What are the advantages and disadvantages of employer-led, points-based, and hybrid systems?
  • How, if at all, can immigration policy be designed to address regional inequalities? What are the benefits and challenges of regional differentiation and devolution within the UK’s immigration system?
  • How can the future immigration system ensure the UK continues to attract top international talent from the EU and beyond post-Brexit (particularly in high-growth and high-innovation sectors)? How should current visa routes be adjusted / should new routes be introduced?
  • What steps could be taken within the UK’s immigration policy to boost productivity? How should this interact with government skills policy? What measures could be taken to ensure that employers invest in domestic skills while continuing to have access to skills internationally?
  • What, if any, is the relationship between migration flows and trade patterns? How could migration policy be used to improve the UK’s trade position after it leaves the EU?

Wealth and ownership in the UK

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice is seeking evidence for its project on Wealth and Ownership in the UK. This is one of a series of inter-related projects which will contribute to the Commission’s interim and final reports. Most of these projects will also be published as standalone working papers for wider debate. 

The focus of the project is on how wealth can be generated and shared more equally in the UK, across nations and regions, gender, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Wealth in the UK is highly unequally distributed, often inefficiently invested and does not currently offer all citizens a stake in the economy. We will be researching the shape of wealth inequality and how inequalities are produced including whether we can expect them to widen. We will be exploring which policies are most likely to redistribute existing and future wealth, as well as which policies could help generate equally shared new wealth. 

Questions to which we are keen to receive responses include:

  • How is wealth inequality likely to change between now and 2030 in the absence of policy intervention? 
  • What features of our current economic model and policies best explain the current distribution of wealth and likely future changes? (E.g. Impact of interest rates, quantitative easing, housing policy, fiscal policy) 
  • How could the tax system be reformed to spread wealth and income from wealth more equally, and to incentivise savings in productive assets? Specifically, we are looking at potential reform to capital gains tax, inheritance tax and an alternative gift tax, script taxes, land value tax and reform of council tax. 
  • Should the UK have a sovereign wealth fund? 
    • What should the goals of this fund be (e.g. maximising returns vs ensuring good social outcomes through investment)? 
    • How should a SWF for the UK be funded? 
    • How should the returns be used in order to share wealth more equally? 
  • How can companies be encouraged or required to share more wealth with their employees? 
  • How can government support the expansion of cooperatives, mutuals, and plural forms of ownership at the firm level?

We are pursuing separate projects on automation and the platform economy, labour markets and income, financing investment, and fiscal policy. These areas will therefore not be included in this project, although they remain closely aligned. Several of these projects will issue their own calls for evidence; those for automation and financing investment have already closed.

We welcome submissions focusing on individual questions and issues as well as those addressing the field as a whole. We would be glad to receive work which has already been published or otherwise already written but which we may not have seen.

The closing date for submissions is 21st September 2017. Please send your comments, by the 21st or sooner, to Carys Roberts, Research Fellow, at evidence@ippr.org with the subject line Wealth and ownership. If you will have material that is only available to send after the closing date we would still be pleased to receive it, though may not be able to use it in our initial research.