AGENDA: Making us all more productive is the aim in Peterborough

Business minister Lord Henley (in orange top) visits Caterpillar in Peterborough.
Business minister Lord Henley (in orange top) visits Caterpillar in Peterborough.
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Engineering giant Caterpillar’s Peterborough state-of-the-art engine production centre was flagged up as an example to all as the Government launched its blueprint for industrial growth.

Caterpillar’s engine plant and its Europe Research and Development Centre, in Eastern Industry, hosted business minister Lord Henley as the government unveiled its Industrial Strategy.

The Government says the strategy sets out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths, address its productivity performance, embrace technological change and boost the earning power of people across the UK.

It has brought a call from business leaders in Peterborough for the industry blueprint to be followed by action - particularly to address Peterborough’s productivity issues.

Figures from research agency Centre for Cities show Peterborough’s GVA (the value of goods and services produced) per worker was £50,200 in 2015, placing it 26th out of 62 cities.

According to this measure Peterborough’s productivity grew 10.9 per cent from 2010 to 2015.

Figures from the ONS for 2015 show Peterborough’s productivity was £47,356 per job - also placing it below regional and national averages - £48,740 and £50,830 respectively.

John Bridge, chief executive of Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, said: “Our productivity gap is the Achilles’ heel for us.

“The issue is how can we drive this up to give us the additional wealth we need to do the things that are required.

He added: “It is good to have a medium and long term strategy but we want to see real action.”

Steve Bowyer, chief executive of city economic development company Opportunity Peterborough, said: “Peterborough’s economy performs well for many things like job creation, inward investment and exporting.

“Although there has been growth in productivity, like much of the country, this could be improved.

“The focus on providing training is very welcome, especially for younger people, but we mustn’t lose sight of the opportunities around up-skilling the current workforce as well.

“We need to make sure we make the most of the funding for innovation and R&D across all the sectors.

“OP will be exploring the funding opportunities available to businesses to ensure that the city’s future growth can be supported.”

Lord Henley said: “The East of England is vital to the UK economy and this strategy, through investment in infrastructure, 5G technology, transport, skills and an uplift of £2.3 billion in innovation spending, will provide certainty for all businesses, so they can seize the many new opportunities as we leave the EU.”

Mark Dorsett, Caterpillar’s UK country director, said: “We welcome the Government’s commitment to a modern Industrial Strategy particularly in light of the challenges facing our business with the UK’s departure from the EU.”