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Regional data vital for economic and social pandemic recovery

28 July 2021

Cardiff City Centre

Wales’ recovery from COVID-19 will be guided by insights from new regional and sectoral economic data, thanks to a partnership between Cardiff University and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

Researchers will apply NIESR’s internationally recognised modelling and forecasting capacity to the Welsh economy for the very first time, as part of an initiative to develop a greater understanding of the UK’s regional economies.

A quarterly report focusing specifically on the Welsh economy is also planned from autumn 2021, giving academics and policymakers an increased understanding of the challenges that lie ahead.

The pandemic brought with it renewed focus to the regions of the UK, particularly in the devolved nations, as policies and guidance were implemented by local governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Professor Huw Dixon, Head of Economics at Cardiff Business School and recently appointed Research Lead for Economic Measurement at NIESR, said: “The timing could not be better for NIESR to reach out from Westminster into the UK regions by partnering with us here in Cardiff. It means that the unique challenges facing Wales will be an integral part of their work on the UK economy.

“It’s this regional and nuanced perspective that’s been vital to understanding the social and economic effects of COVID-19 and now thanks to our partnership it’s a perspective we’ll retain as we forecast for recovery over the coming months and years.”

Professor Jagjit Chadha OBE, Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, added: “The lessons of the past few years have taught us that a better understanding of our regional and devolved economies is vital. The top-level macroeconomics picture often masks considerable regional disparities and a more granular analysis should enable more accurate assessments of the policy imperative.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Cardiff University on building up a better picture of the economy, and in particular developing a deeper awareness of the Welsh economy and how it relates to the national economic and social policy narrative.”

Looking beyond the pandemic, Professor Rachel Ashworth, Dean of Cardiff Business School, thinks the partnership will enable Cardiff University and NIESR to interpret and predict the successes of Wales’ distinctive social and economic policies including Universal Basic Income, the Wellbeing of Future Generations Wales Act and the burgeoning Living Wage Economy.

She said: “NIESR’s data will not only help us shed light on what’s happening here in Wales but also give us a platform to showcase and profile some of the distinctive policies initiated within the Welsh economy on a UK-wide basis.

“These kinds of policies combine economic and social objectives and aspirations to deliver value for the citizens of Wales and the UK across employment, healthcare, education and other sectors too.”

The partnership will also benefit Cardiff University students by offering placement opportunities in NIESR’s headquarters in the heart of Westminster to those studying undergraduate degrees and PhD studentships for postgraduate researchers.

Fellowships for early career researchers, joint events and co-location in sbarc ǀ SPARK - Cardiff University’s new social science research park - are also planned as the partnership develops.

Professor Damian Walford Davies, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, said: “Our partnership with NIESR will enable Britain’s oldest independent economic research institute to enhance its reach and credentials as a national institute. It will also further enrich social science expertise at Cardiff at a time when the distinctive challenges and opportunities of the Welsh economy and the shape of devolved policies call out to be mapped into the future, and as we co-locate our interdisciplinary social science research in sbarc ǀ SPARK, the world’s first social science park.”

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