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The industry body calls for a 'clear sense of purpose' to help grow economy, writes Philip Gates for insider.co.uk.

The gap between the most and least productive regions in the UK will be key to boosting the post-Brexit economy, and should form a central plank in the Government's proposed industrial strategy, the Confederation of British Industry claims.

In its list of recommendations to the Government, which unveiled its industrial strategy Green Paper in January, the CBI called for a 15 percentage point reduction in the productivity gap by 2030.

This, together with a "clear sense of purpose" and a commitment to monitoring specific targets, will lead to a more open and competitive economy it says.

To achieve this, the CBI is urging the Government to include the appointment of an independent commissioner of regions as part of its White Paper to be published later this summer.

The lobbying group is also calling for the establishment of an independent monitoring body to measure performance against specific targets.

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, said the industrial strategy must strive to "improve lives in every community up and down the country" if it is to fully deliver.

"The UK trails badly in the productivity stakes against many of our competitors, which affects people's life chances across the country, and so we urge the Government to reduce the gap between the worst performing regions and the best by 15 percentage points by 2030," she said.

"The success of the industrial strategy must be determined by how it performs in raising people's wages, creating jobs and delivering a wider distribution of economic activity across the UK. An independent body should be established to measure progress against real targets and identify where improvements are needed."

According to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), productivity as measured by gross value added (GVA) per hour worked is highest in London, standing at 32 per cent above the UK average in 2015. This ranges down to 19 per cent below the UK average in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scotland as a whole came in slightly below the UK average, but this masks wide variations.

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire registered the highest productivity level in 2015 at 15 per cent above the UK average. This was followed by Edinburgh and South Ayrshire.

The Shetland Islands had the lowest productivity level at 23 per cent below the UK average, followed by the Orkney Islands, Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders.

Fairbairn added it will be "essential" to get the foundations right, which include building a skills base for the next generation, investing in infrastructure and delivering a pro-enterprise tax environment.

"Many sectors will want to get involved and so the criteria for any new deal must be simple and clear," she said. "But we also need to refresh existing commitments where we have seen news in recent years, such as in aerospace and automotive.

"The industrial strategy will need to empower our regions to develop and champion their own strengths, helping to lift economic activity throughout all parts of the UK."