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Boosting Prosperity in Britain: The Role of Cities like Bristol in Ending Stagnation

Festival of Ideas

Watershed  |  Free

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A toxic combination of 15 years of low growth, and four decades of high inequality, has left Britain poorer and falling behind its peers. Wages today are no higher than they were before the financial crisis, and England’s biggest cities beyond London all have productivity levels below the national average. Britain needs a new economic strategy to lift itself out of stagnation.

In many ways, Bristol reflects the challenges facing the country as a whole. It has long been a hub for high-value aerospace manufacturing and also has considerable strengths in services, including education, creative industries and green technology. But it also faces considerable challenges – from poor public transport to high housing costs – that limits growth and reduces living standards. Harnessing the city’s many strengths will be critical to meeting the economic challenges of the coming years, but Bristol won’t truly thrive unless all its citizens benefit from growth and investment.

The Budget on 6th March will be the Government’s last chance to shape the economic agenda before the next election – and rise to the challenge of boosting prosperity.
What should a new national economic strategy for Britain include? How will economic change affect the jobs we do, the places we live and the businesses we work for? What are the prospects for cities like Bristol in rising to these daunting but reachable challenges? And has the Budget helped or hindered Britain’s economic prospects?

The Resolution Foundation is hosting this event in collaboration with Bristol Ideas and Business West to debate Britain’s future economic strategy, building on the analysis of The Economy 2030 Inquiry – a three-year collaboration between the Resolution Foundation and the LSE, funded by the Nuffield Foundation. We will be joined by leading experts from policy and business in the region to discuss how different areas of the UK – particularly in Bristol and the South West – can secure widely shared prosperity.

Doors open at 12:30pm for a light lunch before the panel begins at 13:00pm.


Sally Doherty is Chief Marketing Officer and a member of the executive board at Graphcore, a leading AI semiconductor and systems company, headquartered in Bristol, which she joined in 2016. In her current role she leads the global sales and marketing team responsible for strategic partnerships, business development, product marketing and communications. She also serves as a Board member at ML Commons, a non-profit working with industry and academia to make AI safer and more efficient for everyone.

Darren Jones

Darren Jones is the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and has been the Labour MP for Bristol North West since 2017. He has also been Chair of the House of Commons Business and Trade Committee, leading Parliament’s oversight of one of the largest departments in government. Prior to working in Parliament, Darren worked as a solicitor, with a particular focus on the energy and telecommunications sectors.

Jessica Lee is Director of Strategy for the West of England Combined Authority, and her responsibilities include leading the development of the region’s strategy to deliver its priorities for sustainable economic growth. Jess has been a member of the leadership team since the Combined Authority’s inception in 2017. Previously she spent 13 years at HM Treasury in various policy roles including as Deputy Director for Growth and Productivity.

Evelyn Welch is Vice Chancellor of the University of Bristol and a scholar of the Renaissance and Early Modern Period. Prior to her appointment at the University of Bristol, she was a Professor of Renaissance and Senior Vice President (Arts & Sciences) at King’s College London.

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