Financial geography expert, Professor Sarah Hall, of the University of Nottingham, has been appointed as Senior Fellow at the think tank UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE).
Professor Hall’s fellowship will analyse the uneven nature of the economy across UK regions and how they are impacted by significant global economic changes. Professor Hall will analyse policy interventions aimed at supporting local economies, including today’s announcement regarding the second round of funding from the government’s levelling up fund.
Her research will examine a number of locations, including Mansfield (Nottinghamshire), Belfast and Teesside to understand how firms and households are responding to changes in the UK economy such as Brexit and the cost of living crisis.
Professor Hall has also been appointed as Deputy Director of UKICE, where she intends to expand the organisation’s connections to the wider social scientific communities and policy audiences.
Dr Sarah Hall, Professor of Economic Geography in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham said: “We know that the UK economy is being affected by a number of changes: the post-Brexit UK-EU trading relationship and the UK’s evolving trade strategy with other countries; changes in global supply chains, partly related to Brexit but also shaped by the ongoing Covid economic recovery; energy price shocks related to the war in Ukraine; and political commitments to deliver a net zero economy by 2050.
“The implications of these geopolitical changes for the UK economy are often the source of intense public and political debate. This Fellowship will provide impartial, accessible knowledge about these issues, grounded in social scientific research that is accessible to policy makers, businesses and the wider public.
“Given the fact that the UK has been identified as the most uneven national economy within the G7, and the Government is committed to a policy of ‘levelling up’, it is particularly important that such analysis includes regional and local scale analysis.”
The project will include real-time data tracking of UK local and regional economic performance through a dashboard called TracktheEconomy, which was initially developed by colleagues in the School of Economics at the University of Nottingham along with Professor Hall to chart local economy performance during the Covid-19 lockdowns. She has subsequently worked with colleagues at the university’s Centre for Inclusive Financial Technology (INFINITY) to launch a report entitled Levelling up: Designing policy to fit places, developing a machine-learned statistical model of the economic geography of the UK.
The TracktheEconomy data will support in-depth analysis of five locations across the UK selected to include a range of economic sectors, political, institutional and regulatory settings:Belfast in order to address the economic impacts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was brought in after Brexit to allow goods to be transported across the Irish border without the need for checks. Mansfield in order to understand a deindustrialised town which voted 71 per cent to leave in the Brexit referendum and has received Towns fund funding Milton Keynes in order to understand one of the UK’s fastest growing cities with areas of slower economic growth that have received levelling up funding and narrowly voted leave in the Brexit referendum Teesside in order to understand a deindustrialised locality with a local mayor, that voted leave and has been the recipient of considerable policy intervention subsequently including the Treasury campus in Darlington and the creation of a freeport London in order to understand changes in the services sector, particularly financial services which has been identified as an important sector in which Brexit dividends may be derived from regulatory change, as well as being a local economy which is currently outperforming the UK nationally.
Professor Neil Crout, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Nottingham, said: “This is fantastic news for Professor Hall and builds on the university’s research strengths in studying economic activity - an area which is clearly impacting so many people in the UK. This Fellowship could not be better timed, given today’s news of more levelling up funding being allocated to projects across the UK. Only with the latest data can the right judgments be made about where to allocate support and funding to help the UK economy to grow and improve inequality in UK regions.”
The news comes as the UK in a Changing Europe announces it is entering a new phase, with renewed funding and an expanded team and agenda, focussed on three broad themes:UK-EU relations, The UK after Brexit, The UK’s place in the world.
As part of this relaunch, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has appointed ten new UKICE Senior Fellows. The new team of academics will contribute to UKICE’s programme of work by producing high-quality original research, and communicating it to policymakers, politicians, the media, and the general public.