Skip to main content

Regional Imbalances in the UK Economy inquiry


The Treasury Committee has launched an inquiry into regional imbalances in the UK economy. There will be two strands to the inquiry. Firstly, the Committee will examine the nature of regional imbalances in economic growth which currently exist in the UK. Secondly, the Committee will establish what regional data is currently available in the UK, how it could be used more effectively in policy development, and whether there should be official regional economic forecasts produced. The Committee will accept written evidence until 2 August.

Terms of Reference

What are the most significant regional imbalances in the UK i.e. is it the imbalance between London/southeast and other regions; between towns and cities; or between urban and rural areas?  How have these imbalances changed in the past decade (and potentially longer) and how are they likely to change in the future?

  • How do imbalances present themselves in the UK, in terms of growth, wages, employment and other indicators?
  • What are the main drawbacks of having significant regional imbalances?
  • To what extent can regional imbalances explain the UK’s poor productivity performance?
  • What is the interaction between regional and income inequality? Is there greater inequality within regions or between regions?
  • What light does new regional economic data being produced shed on regional imbalances?

What lessons can be learnt from the success or otherwise of programs designed to promote regional economic growth so far?  What are the future interventions that the UK should consider?

  • How effective have regional bodies, for example combined authorities, cities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, been in promoting strong growth across all areas of the UK?
  • To what extent can devolution of funding to regional bodies promote growth and reduce regional disparities?

Regional economic data and forecasts

How are national policy makers and policy makers at the local level (such as local authorities or local economic partnerships) currently using the available regional economic data to inform their policy decisions and could the application and use of regional economic data be improved?

  • What is the quality of regional economic data such as economic growth/ income/public spending per capita/investment levels currently available in the UK and how does its quality and coverage differ from economic data available at the national level?
  • Which regional economic data should the Government focus on e.g. is it GDP growth, or for regions, is unemployment data and other indicators that measure well-being more relevant?
  • Should regional economic data currently produced by the ONS be given a higher profile e.g. should GVA growth be routinely published in documents such as the Government’s Budget and Spring Statement and the OBR’s Economic and Fiscal Outlook?
  • The ONS produces regional statistics at different levels: regions/City regions/Combined local authorities/local authorities and sectors.  How useful is it to produce statistics at all these levels? 
  • What are the main gaps in regional data for users?

Should there be official regional economic forecasts produced for output growth and other economic indicators such as unemployment?

  • What value would regional economic forecasts add to policy makers and how would they use them? What sort of forecasts would be the most useful?
  • Are regional economic forecasts viable, given the quality of the regional output data at the moment?
  • If regional economic forecasts are both useful and viable, who should be responsible for producing official regional economic forecasts and what level should they be produced?
  • What would be the advantage of a government body producing official economic forecasts as opposed to private forecasters doing it?

What can be learnt from other countries on the use of regional economic data and regional forecasts?

How does devolution change the need for regional economic data?

Please note that written evidence does not need to include responses to all the questions.

Upcoming events

View all events

No upcoming events scheduled

Contact us

We receive a significant number of emails each day. If you’ve asked for a reply, we’ll aim to respond as soon as we can, although during parliamentary recesses it may take slightly longer for us to respond. We’re usually able to reply more quickly to emails than to post. Please note, the Committee does not look at individual cases or specific complaints.