Starting this week, Liverpool will play host to the country’s biggest business event since the Festival of Britain in 1951. For 50 days, a quarter of a million people from 125 countries are set to take part in events on manufacturing, finance, technology, science and more. That’s 50 days of businesses getting contracts, jobs being created, and money – a predicted £100 million – pouring into our country, especially Liverpool.
Britain is a proud nation of designers, engineers, inventors and traders, and the International Festival for Business is our shop window. From GPS shoes that walk you home, to floors that generate power from footsteps, to the bicycle that Liverpool University hopes will reach 90mph, the festival will show the world’s investors what British business is really made of.
And there couldn’t be a more fitting host than Liverpool. This is the city that powered Britain through the Industrial Revolution; that pioneered the skyscraper. And today, it is rising up again. The city has the fastest growing productivity of any city outside London – poised to become a global hotspot for cutting-edge manufacturing.
Some people might question why there is so much fanfare around business. What does the IFB mean for me – and why should readers of the Liverpool Echo care? It’s simple: British businesses are creating the jobs we need, the revenue that runs our public services, and the stability that will secure Britain’s future.
Today we have the fastest growing major economy in the world. Nearly 2 million new jobs have been created and more people are in work than ever before. Enterprise is driving that revival. And the result? More security and peace of mind for hardworking families right across our country, and right here in Liverpool. That’s why this government is full-square behind our wealth-creators and innovators.
Of course we’ve got a long way to go. There are 3 things we need to do: back those businesses; rebalance our economy to boost manufacturing; and ensure that we create a recovery for all.
First, backing business. Our long-term economic plan is helping to make Britain the best country in the world to start and grow a business. The plan is reducing the deficit, helping businesses to grow. It is cutting people’s taxes, giving them more to spend on British shops and services. It is providing better infrastructure, so businesses have the roads, railways, energy and broadband they need to expand. And it is creating the best schools and skills, so we teach and train the workforce of the future.
Second, rebalancing our economy. Under the previous government there was an unhealthy reliance on growth in the financial sector. That’s partly why the Great Recession hit families so hard – because too many of our economic eggs were in one basket. A resilient economy is one that makes more, exports more and invests more. And Liverpool will play a big part in that, by capitalising on its strongest manufacturing sectors, like food, chemical and car production. That’s why we are putting all the incentives out there we can – cutting businesses’ rates, investing in research and science, rewarding expansion – so that these industries can reach higher. This is paying dividends: from Jaguar Land Rover and TNT to Peel Holdings and Liverpool University, thousands of people in the city are getting work because our economy is broadening.
Third, we are making this recovery sustainable by ensuring it’s a recovery for all – not just for London. Under the previous government, for every 10 jobs created in London, just one was created in the north. That was bad for business, bad for Britain, and bad for Liverpool. Today, however, the North West has had the third fastest employment growth in the country. The number of people on jobseekers’ allowance has fallen by a quarter since the general election. And the number of people starting apprenticeships has increased more than anywhere else in Britain. But this is only the beginning – we need to go further. We need to see more jobs, more apprentices, more people playing their part and realising their potential, so Liverpool becomes a leading light in Britain’s rise.
So I’m truly excited about the International Festival for Business and delighted it’s taking place here in Liverpool. It’s a great showcase for the dynamism, the creativity and the ingenuity for which this city – and this country – are famous the world over.