Rachel Reeves

Member of Parliament for Leeds West

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It was great to visit thebigword in Wortley and catch up with Larry Gould, the Chief executive.

Thebigword is a really dynamic translations company, it does work across the world and has contracts with the NHS, the Justice Department and many local councils in the UK.

I met with a number of staff members and spoke to them about the challenges they face, the company employs over 450 staff, many from the local area. thebigword takes on a lot of apprentices and a high number go on to become permanent staff members, both on the translation side and in administration roles. We spoke about making contact with local high schools and Larry was very keen to do this. 

thebigword Visit

It was great to visit thebigword in Wortley and catch up with Larry Gould, the Chief executive. Thebigword is a really dynamic translations company, it does work across the world...

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Our Armley Councillors were there for another successful Armley Festival. This year's festival was bigger and better than ever with over 70 stalls representing a vast array of local businesses, organisations and charities on Town Street. 

The performance stage was a huge draw showcasing Armley's local DJ, dancing and musical talent. 

I would like to express a huge thank you and appreciation for the volunteers who made this another great success, from the organising committee to everyone on the stalls and every member of the Armley community who turned up to make it such a fantastic day!

Armley Festival 2017

Our Armley Councillors were there for another successful Armley Festival. This year's festival was bigger and better than ever with over 70 stalls representing a vast array of local businesses,...

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I was delighted to be elected Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee. This is a really exciting role and one which will provide the opportunity to put a lot of important issues on the agenda.

I am hugely grateful to all of the colleagues who gave me their support.

The Committee is made up of backbench MPs from different parties, who will be meeting twice a week to ask questions of government ministers, conduct inquiries into key issues and explore the big challenges facing the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy going forward.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee

I was delighted to be elected Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee. This is a really exciting role and one which will provide the opportunity to... Read more

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I had a brilliant time at Kirkstall Festival, such an amazing event that brings all of the community together and all run by a fabulous talented group of volunteers! 

Great to be with The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Leeds West member Cllr Jane Dowson, along with Lucinda, Fiona, John and many other friends in the council and the Leeds West community. 

Thank you to all who attended and a special thanks to all the hardworking volunteers who made it a great afternoon for all involved. 

Kirkstall Festival 2017

I had a brilliant time at Kirkstall Festival, such an amazing event that brings all of the community together and all run by a fabulous talented group of volunteers!  Great... Read more

‘Productivity is not everything. But in the long run, it is almost everything,” wrote the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. It is productivity which provides the basis for long-term, sustainable growth and, most importantly, for improvements in living standards. As Andrew Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist, puts it: “A household’s income depends largely on wages and those wages depend, in turn, on the productivity of the company at which households work.”

The government and headline figures of GDP growth tell us that we have experienced a recovery, but the average family isn’t feeling it. We can put a lot of that down to the productivity gap. So, what can policymakers and businesses do to help boost productivity and wages?

The average British worker produces 30 per cent less per week than the average worker in France, Germany or the United States, and our productivity still hasn’t recovered from the 2008 crash. This is a key part of the reason that the average British household hasn’t experienced an increase in disposable income in more than a decade.

Weak growth also means people are increasingly borrowing to plug the gap. Our living standards rest on unsustainable private household debt. Our household debt to income ratio now stands at a staggering 142 per cent.

Yet productivity isn’t lagging for all Britain’s firms. Instead, we are seeing a growing gulf between a minority of highly successful, highly productive companies making gains year on year, and a majority of firms, falling back and suffering from lack of finance, an inability to integrate new technologies into their business and inadequate infrastructure.

The productivity gap strikingly maps onto Britain’s regional inequalities, with a huge concentration of the most productive firms in London and the South East. If we are to address our country’s deep regional inequalities, increasing productivity will be key.

Alarmingly, the problems holding Britain back from productivity gains date back decades. Small-and-medium enterprises struggle to access the finance they need to invest in new technologies — a problem that was identified as long ago as 1931. We have lagged behind France and Germany in infrastructure investment through the entire post-war period. And Britain has never succeeded in creating a world-class system of technical education.

To begin to address the productivity puzzle, we must understand it as the outcome of multiple, deep structural problems. How can we begin to address these?

Part of the answer is about ambition — we must ask how we can reform our institutions for long-term, strategic decision-making on infrastructure projects. The creation of the National Infrastructure Commission, headed by Andrew Adonis, is a start.

We need to ensure that infrastructure investments with long-term benefits, that will ultimately pay for themselves, receive the funding they need. Borrowing to invest is a sensible proposition that makes economic sense. Rather than hurriedly selling off the Green Investment Bank, couldn’t the government have thought about how to build on that successful model, perhaps with a National Infrastructure Bank?

To provide access to finance for our SMEs, we need to consider the role of the state. Can we further empower the British Business Bank started by the coalition? The Sparkassen network of local banks in Germany is one model we can look to for inspiration — perhaps also embracing the mutual model of banking that has historically been a key part of the UK’s financial sector. Alongside this, we must explore how to create more competition in private sector banking, so that individuals and small businesses get a better service and a better deal.

Productivity gains alone, however, are not enough. We face new challenges going forward as well as old ones. Some people forecast that sweeping technological change will bring with it great leaps forward in productivity. Alongside this, however, they predict soaring unemployment as machines take over more and more of the jobs people used to do. We need to think about how technological advances can create productivity gains that support fulfilling, well-paid work, not replace it.

That means we need to think about how to improve productivity in the low-productivity, service-based parts of the economy — the everyday economy — which employs the majority of workers in Britain. This means thinking about the integration of technology into these workplaces, and making sure sectors like care and retail are considered as much a part of any industrial strategy as the advanced manufacturing industries of the future. Management is also central: as the LSE’s John van Reenen has shown, small improvements in management practice can cause major productivity gains. We might consider, for instance, the idea of creating catapult centres for management, as well as technology transfer. And we should think about infrastructure as more than roads and bridges. As the CBI has argued, social infrastructure like childcare is also essential to improving our productivity performance.

The challenges are immense, as are the distractions. But whatever the terms of any deal, post-Brexit prosperity will depend on our ability to get to grips with problems that predate our entry into the European Economic Community and will exist after we leave the EU. Britain is a world leader in so many sectors but, as the statistics show, we need more high-productivity, well-paid jobs to improve living standards and to seize the opportunities that technology and change can bring.

Rachel Reeves is former shadow work and pensions secretary and Labour MP for Leeds West

Solving the productivity puzzle will help boost Brexit Britain

Rachel Reeves ‘Productivity is not everything. But in the long run, it is almost everything,” wrote the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. It is productivity which provides the basis for...

The Parliamentary Tours Office offer free tours of Parliament to all UK residents. They last 75 mins and are led by trained guides.

To book, contact 020 7219 3003 or email tours@parliament.uk

The Education Service also offer a variety of free tours and workshops for schools, in Parliament’s Education Centre, as well as a schools outreach programme. Most schools can qualify for the transport subsidy when visiting Parliament, to help with the cost of travel to and from London.

Details of all their workshops, Education Outreach programme, printed resources and full transport subsidy eligibility criteria are available at http://www.parliament.uk/education/. Schools should contact 020 7219 4496 or email education@parliament.uk to book a place.

Further information can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/visiting/visiting-and-tours/tours-of-parliament/tours/

If any of my constituents do plan on visiting when Parliament is in session, please let me know and we can arrange to meet up for a coffee. Contact me on rachel.reeves.mp@parliament.uk.

Tours of Parliament

The Parliamentary Tours Office offer free tours of Parliament to all UK residents. They last 75 mins and are led by trained guides. To book, contact 020 7219 3003 or...

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I would like to thank the Yorkshire Building Society for hosting TheCityUK Policymaker Roundtable discussion last Friday. I opened the event by talking about the state of play in parliament and how this would impact on things in the region over the coming years. Then I took part in the ensuing conversation with councillors and business leaders, talking about industry in Yorkshire and the Humber, Brexit, social mobility and economic benefits to the young people in Leeds. It was great to see the consideration some of the prominent members of our community have for ensuring financial services serve the real economy, of both individuals and businesses. 

TheCityUK Policymaker Roundtable Discussion

I would like to thank the Yorkshire Building Society for hosting TheCityUK Policymaker Roundtable discussion last Friday. I opened the event by talking about the state of play in parliament...

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Thrilled to have opened the Regional Women’s Conference and welcome the Labour women of Yorkshire and the Humber to our great city. Really interesting to hear from everyone that spoke and it was a good chance to get involved with, and see  how passionate our female membership across the county are.

Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Women’s Conference

Thrilled to have opened the Regional Women’s Conference and welcome the Labour women of Yorkshire and the Humber to our great city. Really interesting to hear from everyone that spoke...

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Delighted to have been able to attend the lovely New Farnley Village Fete and support the trustees of the Lancasterian School Room. It was a great opportunity to meet and engage with the local community and catch up in particular with Millie and her family. 

New Farnley Village Fete

Delighted to have been able to attend the lovely New Farnley Village Fete and support the trustees of the Lancasterian School Room. It was a great opportunity to meet and... Read more

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I was delighted to attend the Barclays Yorkshire Women in Business Awards on Friday 23rd June at Bowcliffe Hall and want to congratulate all the women honoured at this event. 

Barclays Yorkshire Women in Business Awards

I was delighted to attend the Barclays Yorkshire Women in Business Awards on Friday 23rd June at Bowcliffe Hall and want to congratulate all the women honoured at this event. ... Read more

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