Opinion Former Article

ESRC: Research to kick-start the UK economy

What will it take put the UK back on the path of sustained economic growth? A new report investigates the challenges the UK faces after the economic downturn and explores a range of initiatives across education, business, housing, industry, and innovation that could help kick-start growth.

Re-igniting Growth, published by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), includes a series of interviews with key academics funded by the ESRC. As well as giving the recession historical context, many of the interviews take unconventional approaches to a range of issues and provide responses to the economic problems the UK is experiencing.

Among the interviews are:

Professor Nick Bloom shows that the dramatic failures of banks, the European debt crisis and geopolitical concerns have left people more uncertain about what the future holds. Uncertainty about policy is a major factor in the current stagnation of growth in the UK.

Professor Paul Gregg looks at unemployment. The UK recession has seen unemployment to be far more focused on young people than in previous downturns imposing large costs on individuals and society. He examines strategies for getting the unemployed back into work and ensuring that those leaving school do not join the jobless.

Bad management practices hurt the economy and delivering major improvements would be a key ingredient to restarting growth. Professor John Van Reenen looks at why UK managers lag behind the US, Japan and Germany.

Professor Mariana Mazzucato explains how the state has traditionally funded the creation of key technologies but failed to reap the economic rewards. How can the financial eco system be reformed so that the collective system of innovation fits with a more collective distribution of the rewards to those that have contributed?

Globalisation has seen traditional manufacturing decline as a share of the UK economy in the face of low-cost competition from the Far East. Professor Andy Neely says that future UK economic growth lies in a radical change in the way firms offer their products - 'servitisation'.

Professor David Newberry believes that in the current economic environment the public sector should ensure it maintains or increases investment in projects that have a high benefit-cost ratio. But he thinks HS2 and a third London airport are unlikely to deliver economic benefits until 2030 and therefore a third runway at Heathrow should be a priority.

ESRC Chief Executive Paul Boyle said: "Re-igniting Growth offers new perspectives on many aspects of the economic problems facing the UK. It shows the range of expertise of the centres and experts funded by the ESRC, and the unique findings of the economic and social research they produce."

Many of the themes in Re-igniting Growth are being taken forward by the LSE Growth Commission, funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) and the ESRC, and co-chaired by Professor Tim Besley and Professor John Van Reenen, Director of the ESRC's Centre for Economic Performance. The Commission’s Report, Investing for Prosperity, is launched on 31 January 2013.

For further information contact:

ESRC Press Office:

Sarah Nichols
Email: sarah.nichols@esrc.ac.uk
Telephone: 01793 413122
Jeanine Woolley
Email: jeanine.woolley@esrc.ac.uk
Telephone: 01793 413119
Notes for editors

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's total budget for 2012/13 is £205 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.

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