National Productivity Week 27th January 2025 | Visit Website

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Revisiting the UK productivity puzzle: podcast blog

Host Bart van Ark is joined by Ed Balls, Andy Haldane, and Rachel Wolf for a special Productivity Puzzles podcast episode, released during the National Productivity Week, explores the national and regional dimensions of the productivity puzzle, examining key policy areas and analysing The Productivity Institute’s proposition of a new institution for growth and productivity.

Where do we stand?

The episode kicks off by addressing the UK’s overall productivity scenario. Andy Haldane, CEO of the Royal Society of Arts, reflects on the progress made since he spearheaded efforts to reposition productivity on the government’s agenda six to seven years ago. Despite external challenges like the pandemic, the panel discusses improvements, persistent challenges, and the elusive nature of long-term productivity growth.

What have we learned about the UK’s regional productivity problem?

The conversation shifts to the regional aspect of the productivity puzzle. Ed Balls, drawing on his own research, highlights the stark disparities between regions and offers a policymaker perspective on what has worked and what remains contentious. The panel discusses proposed solutions, including deeper devolution models.

Key areas for policy making

With a focus on policy, the discussion zooms in on the multifaceted nature of productivity enhancement. The panel addresses productivity for individuals, firms, and regions. Rachel Wolf emphasises the importance of skills and education policies; Andy Haldane explores innovation, technological change, and fiscal matters; while Ed Balls brings attention to policies related to places.

A new institution for growth and productivity

In the final segment, attention shifts to the proposal for a new institution for growth and productivity, which is a key recommendation of The Productivity Agenda. The panel explores the blueprint developed by The Productivity Institute, emphasising the need for good representation, a long-term focus, and stakeholder involvement. The conversation covers the potential roles, organisation, and importance of aligning with existing institutions, providing valuable insights into the future of productivity policy.