Blog: Third Build Back Better webinar puts focus on regional growth


Following on from the success of the second Build Back Better webinar last month, Maritime UK joined forces with a range of industry experts to review the Coastal Powerhouse Manifesto. The session set out how the UK can grow the maritime sector in coastal economies, and discussed ways in which the sector could work with the government to bring the proposals it had suggested to life.

Held virtually on 22nd February, the panel included Chris Shirling-Rooke, CEO of Mersey Maritime, Ellen Horner, Levelling-Up Taskforce at the Cabinet Office, Tim Morris, CEO of UKMPG and sponsor of the event, Anne-Marie Mountfield, CEO of Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, Richard Ballantyne, CEO of the British Ports Association and Emily G Cunningham, Lead Officer at LGA Coastal SIG.

Tim Morris kicked off proceedings with an overview of the current situation facing coastal regions: they’re amongst some of the most deprived communities in the country. A report recently found that almost half of coastal communities’ young being driven away from their hometowns due to a lack of jobs, with the poorest also facing lower education attainment. Morris highlighted the important role the maritime sector could play: offering those living in coastal communities well-paid, highly-skilled jobs. The numbers speak for themselves: maritime jobs are, on average, 42% more productive than the UK average. For every £1 that’s generated by maritime, £2.71 is generated across the economy.

Ellen Horner was next to speak and offered an overview of the Levelling Up white paper, designed to address the geographic inequalities faced by communities across the UK. She highlighted the six main pillars of the whitepaper - human capital, intangible capital, institutional capital, social capital, physical capital and financial capital. The British Ports Association’s Richard Ballantyne was next and used his time to highlight the role freeports play in the reversal of coastal communities’ fortunes, though stressed freeports focus on small geographical areas and don’t ‘Level Up’ the rest of the UK.

Anne-Marie Mountfield followed, explaining the benefits of being a regional cluster, providing a single voice, making it easier to design policy and creating a unified trading gateway. Emily Cunningham rounded out the panel’s speeches by discussing ways local government can play in the wider maritime scene, highlighting the Motion for the Ocean campaign and its six key pledges. 

Once the panel had concluded their initial speeches, it was time to take questions from the audience. When asked about what they can do to increase regional growth, the overarching theme was building stronger ties between government and industry, on both a national and local level, and the sharing of insights, experience, and current projects. The panel was also keen to stress that ports needed to become more integrated into local communities and ecosystems and cited Portsmouth and Southampton as players that were engaging closely with their communities, to much success.

Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways from the webinar was the importance of communication and collaboration across freeports and local maritime communities. Right now, there are significant regional disparities, and whilst some areas like Solent are making significant progress, others are lagging behind. By coming together to support one another, regional maritime hubs can truly thrive.

Tim Morris, at UK Major Ports Group said:

“The UK Major Ports Group was really pleased to support Maritime UK’s ‘Build Back Better’ webinar. It was a really timely event, taking place against the background of the Government’s recently published flagship Levelling Up White Paper, allowing a participants from industry, regional cluster organisations and government to explore what ‘levelling up’ could and should mean in the context of the UK’s coast. What the call demonstrated were the unique opportunities and issues of the coast, the passionate people and organisations looking to drive forward prosperity and opportunity and that the Government is very much in the market for good ideas and projects that support Levelling Up goals.”

To find out more about upcoming events hosted by Maritime UK, click here.

Watch the webinar here