Here’s a fun fact. The East Midlands has the lowest level of public expenditure on economic growth and transport.
And guess where our region comes in for health care, education and public expenditure on services overall? Seventh out of the nine regions in England.
Have a guess which region persistently tops all the charts? Of course, it’s London. So no prizes there.
Figures from the treasury show that between 2015 and 2016 the East Midlands saw investment into public services of £8,237 per head compared to £10,129 for the Capital. In terms of expenditure on railways, the East Midlands receives £91 per head compared to £746 in London.
This is already in a context of falling overall public expenditure. No wonder cities and towns in the East Midlands are struggling.
Now it’s not about competition. The North East is close to the topping the charts on public investment, but only due to the Tory’s sticking plaster growth strategy. Despite the disparity, the so called “Northern Powerhouse” is yet to deliver much that is truly powerful.
What the Treasury figures show is the need for investment across the board. The myth that has guided governments of the past three decades is that business grows by itself and it grows best when the state stands aside. But it’s not working. And yet despite the evidence, as we shall see in the Autumn budget, the Chancellor is too tied to the finance economy in London to change course.
What we’re now hearing from top economists is the need for an ‘entrepreneurial state’, one that creates the conditions for growth by investing in things like infrastructure and research to ramp up Britain’s productivity.
Here’s another fun fact: the technology that makes an iPhone – a symbol of our modern, individualised society – was developed by the American state.
All of Britain could be better if it had a government with vision and clarity of purposes. But until then, the East Midlands will be left wanting.
This article first appeared in the New Zealand community magazine.