Productivity, weather, climate change and – robots!

Our LEP says we can double productivity in Devon and Somerset by 2030. But can we do this given recent weather/climate activity that has apparently already cost Devon £200m?

To recap: the only 2 main roads into and out of Devon (M5 and A303) were both impassable at the same time, the rail service collapsed in Dawlish and London, Exeter airport was closed and rural bus services were all cancelled. Devon came to a standstill. At a time when there were threats to cut gas supplies to larger, non-strategic businesses.

Good quality and quantity infrastructure is essential to get productivity growth, and now the cold weather has – yet again – shown how bad our infrastructure is, and that the current government has under invested – almost certainly because the south-west is generally a set of safe seats – so there is no need to invest – need as defined by political election need not citizen need.

So LEP claims to double productivity would be extremely optimistic / challenging in the best of circumstances, with great infrastructure, but with crumbling infrastructure, struggling under the weight of homes growth, and subject to the vagaries of the weather and lacking in desperately needed investment, there is not a hope of getting anywhere close. And indeed, we might ask, with the woeful infrastructure we currently have, and no investment, should we expect a decline in productivity rather than an increase?

And we have another problem. Productivity = output. so, with robotics does that mean more or less employment – and if less, and no one wants to move here, who are going to live in all these new homes and how will they afford to keep them?

Even Greggs the bakers are now using robots to make sausage rolls and pasties: