Prime Minister reminded not to forget Great South West


On Friday, the Great South West will address a room of the South West’s best and brightest businesspeople at the South West Business Council’s quarterly conference at Exeter Racecourse. (see article below)

So this will be a “preaching to the converted “session. Owl desperately wants to see a thriving region but is confused as to who actually speaks for the region, and under what authority. Owl is also underwhelmed by the Great South West case which seems to emphasise presentation over substance. The “bottom line” of their prospectus seeks £2M handout from government over three years to create a team to flesh out a case (which they describe as “working at pace”). Heart of the South West has been plotting strategies to double the local economy in 20 years since 2014. All seem to agree that increasing productivity is an essential component.

So there is something the brightest and best business people could do right now, at no cost to the taxpayer. Read on.

In a recent article David Smith, economics editor for the times wrote

Productivity and investment are intimately related. The main reason that France has higher productivity than Britain, to the puzzlement of many, is that its businesses invest more. Capital per worker is higher, and so is labour productivity.

Investment matters for productivity growth. If business investment falters, as it has done in this country for the past three to four years, it means that a poor outlook for productivity turns into a terrible one…

……“There has been a major change in the incentives of senior management through the way and amount they are paid. Incentives determine behaviour, so we should not be surprised that behaviour changes when incentives change. Pay packages for management are formed today in a way that discourages investment.”

How? Executives are rewarded not for ensuring that the businesses they run are good and competitive in the long run, but on the basis of short-term performance — the average tenure of FTSE 100 chief executives is three to four years — and in particular share price performance. Investment often depresses short-term performance and the share price. Alternative uses of resources, such as share buybacks, do nothing for underlying performance but are popular with shareholders because they push up the share price. Fund managers, whose performance also is assessed on a short-term basis — quarterly, or even monthly or weekly — have an incentive to support buyback programmes because they flatter their investment records.


Charlotte Turner

Representatives of the Great South West will be reminding the Prime Minister to put his words into action to back the region.

The Western Morning News’ editor-in-chief Bill Martin and David Ralph, CEO of the Heart of the South West LEP, will be speaking about the campaign which has stepped up its fight for investment and recognition – and they will be urging Mr Johnson to ensure he follows through with the pledges he made to the Great South West last year.

In December, a high-level delegation from the Back the Great South West campaign was invited up to Number 10 to discuss the needs for the area and how the Government can step up to help it thrive.

Mr Johnson told the Great South West partners from the region how important the South West was to him personally, as well as putting his backing behind the campaign.

At the time he said: “We want to address some of the infrastructure issues in the region, as well as other vital services. Because it is the mission of my Conservative Government to unite and level up the country, and the South West has potential in all sorts of areas – from the spaceport in Newquay to farming, fishing, tourism and technology.

“I want to see improvements to infrastructure and technology, better rail and roads, more schools funding and investment in health services. We’re One Nation Conservatives and we believe in a dynamic economy. The South West campaign is a great one and your region is an absolute priority to me. So I can assure you that we want to support and champion everything you do.”

On Friday, the Great South West will address a room of the South West’s best and brightest businesspeople at the South West Business Council’s quarterly conference at Exeter Racecourse.

The presentation is a chance to show how the Great South West is progressing and how the region’s ability to collaborate and speak with one voice has put it in a unique position in relation to a new Government that has vowed to level up the regions.