We are going through a tough period economically – but sometimes I think the gloom is overdone.
I asked my team at the Treasury to do some analysis of how the UK’s growth compares to other countries – and the answer is not too bad at all.
Since 2010 we have grown faster than France or Japan.
Since the Brexit referendum we have grown about the same as Germany. We have near record-low unemployment despite going through a pandemic that contracted the economy by 20 per cent.
But the biggest cause for optimism, as I outlined recently in my Bloomberg speech, is how well placed we are in the growth industries that will define this century.
Last year we became just the third country in the world to have a technology sector worth $1 trillion (after America and China).
At Davos, PwC unveiled a survey saying we were also the third most attractive country to grow a business for global chief executives.
London has just pipped New York and San Francisco to be the best city for female entrepreneurs out of 55 worldwide.
We are also very strong in green industries, where we have the largest offshore wind farm in the world.
It helped us deliver 40 per cent of our electricity through renewables, the second-highest in Europe, and policies only possible after being introduced by David Cameron.
Another area is life sciences where we don’t just have the largest sector in Europe, but also discovered one of the world’s most widely-used Covid vaccines and the most widely-used treatment – saving seven million lives globally.
None of this is to say we don’t have major challenges. Most economists agree our productivity is still behind where it should be. So I set out what I describe as the four ‘E’s to remedy it: Enterprise, Education, Employment and Everywhere.
We will not be Europe’s most prosperous economy unless we have its most innovative and dynamic enterprises, which means more risk taking and competitive tax levels; we need to improve the education and skills we give young people if we are to become a high-wage, high-tech economy; if we want an economy less dependent on migration we need to encourage more of the 6.6 million out-of-work adults of working age to participate in our renewal; and we need to make sure the changes happen everywhere, not just London and the south east, which is why the levelling-up agenda matters.
Farnham, Godalming and Haslemere all have thriving technology businesses and our area stands to benefit hugely if we become the world’s next Silicon Valley.
My job as chancellor is to put the foundations in place to make that happen!