YOUR column by the economist John Mills (The Yorkshire Post, October 14) caused me a few concerns about his characterisation of the Yorkshire economy.
While it is true that Yorkshire has depended more on manufacturing than London and the South East, we should not downplay the strength of the service sector in the region, such as in retail financial services like First Direct and Yorkshire Building Society.
Claiming “Yorkshire does not have the natural advantages of geography, language, our legal system, and our universities that London-based services have” is confusing and simply not true.
As far as I can tell, we speak the same language as those in London and have a number of world-class universities in the region including, I should add, those with a very strong focus on advanced manufacturing.
Our legal system is the same (though of course the highest courts are located in London) and many service sector businesses are not location dependent, which is why we have seen more and more firms opening offices outside of London and the South East.
We are, however, also committed to a rebalancing of the economy to see more manufacturing businesses thrive across the UK as well as here in Yorkshire.
There also appears to be a suggestion that the exchange rate is causing harm to UK (and in particular Yorkshire) manufacturing businesses, and that an active policy consideration should be a devaluation of sterling.
While the Bank of England will take current exchange rates into consideration, it should still be reasonably fresh in the memories of how disastrous previous attempts at exchange rate targeting have been.
Looking at sterling’s value over the past 40 years, it has generally been on a downward trend. Yet this hasn’t led to the manufacturing resurgence that Mr Mills has suggested such a policy would achieve. We do not need a policy of devaluation to increase the manufacturing base, we need to stop talking down the region and celebrate the many successful businesses that are already here.
Getting behind the priorities of raising productivity through improved skills and education provision alongside projects to improve connectivity, like HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, would, in my opinion, be far more productive than worrying about exchange rates.
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