The Prime Minister's Strategy Unit published a presentation on its website yesterday. Strategic Priorities for the UK: The Policy Review (PDF) is described as "background for Cabinet discussion of the policy review programme on 19th October 2006". It's quite an interesting, albeit discursive, overview of what the government sees as its key achievements and challenges. Economics editor Larry Elliott summarises the economic material in today's Guardian:
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown believe the economic stability the government has presided over since 1997 is a necesssary but insufficient condition for the big challenge of the next decade - tackling the threat posed by the big emerging economies of China and India.
Over the past decade and a half, the size of the global labour force has doubled to three billion as a result of the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union, China's embrace of the market and the arrival of India as a global economic force.
With the fast-growing developing economies having far lower levels of wages than those in the UK, Labour says the only option is a "knowledge economy" which specialises in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, environmental protection, nanotechnology and financial services.
These are areas where the UK has a tradition of strength, where the profits margins are high, and where the competition from India and China has so far been less evident than in low-cost manufacturing.
Labour has identified two areas that need to be addressed. The first is ensuring that Britain can compete in the lucrative high-skill sectors, where there is some concern that the UK spends less on research and development than its main rivals; that Britain's level of skills compares badly to those in the United States, Germany and Japan; and that the flow of new scientists may be drying up.
Although the government says educational standards have been rising, there are 7 million adults who are unable to read and write. At the other end of the spectrum, the number of undergraduates reading the physical sciences, engineering and technology has been falling, while fewer children have been taking maths and science at A-level.
The government's second concern is to ensure that growth benefits all groups in Britain. Labour admits the very poorest have not shared the benefits of growth, while inequality is more pronounced than it was in 1997.