Infrastructure should play a role in delivering £16.9 billion for North West in higher productivity gains
Improvements in regional infrastructure will help boost productivity and give England’s regions the chance to improve links with international markets, according to a new CBI report.

Shaping Regional Infrastructure, a report drawing on conversations with members of the UK’s largest business group, Unlocking Regional Growth and the 2016 CBI/AECOM Infrastructure Survey, demonstrates the pressing need felt by businesses to enhance their infrastructure and connectivity across the country.

Improving the links between regions will give firms access to a broader labour market pool and better connections to supply chains. Moreover, with businesses across the country wanting a long term aviation strategy that makes the best use of regional airports, better links to these are vital to connecting firms with new and existing international markets to which to export – particularly important post-Brexit.

CBI analysis shows that if the North West’s productivity grew at the same pace as the region’s best performing area did between 2004 and 2014, the gain to its economy could be £16.9 billion by 20241. And improvements to infrastructure could play an important role in this. With 94% of firms also seeing technology as a crucial driver of increased productivity, its better and greater use will improve infrastructure delivery.

In the North West, where 60% of firms are dissatisfied with the state of their infrastructure, and 76% believe further devolution would improve it, key priorities include:

Improving broadband and mobile infrastructure – 88% of the region’s firms identify broadband speed as a problem

Strengthening inter-regional transport links – including Northern Powerhouse Rail and tackling congestion by increasing capacity on the M60/M62, M56/M60 and M6 corridors, as well as work on the A66 and A69

Better connecting airports and ports – such as Manchester Airport, Liverpool port and Superport – with the surrounding road and rail network.

Damian Waters, CBI North West Director, said:

“England’s infrastructure is the arteries and veins without which the country its economy and businesses function. But with 60% of North West firms dissatisfied with the state of our region’s roads, rails and ports, it’s vital the pace of taking action and delivering improvements is stepped up.

“Infrastructure is a key driver of productivity. By making it easier for staff to get to work and by better connecting companies to their customers, markets overseas and supply chains, we could do a great deal to lift England’s productivity.

“Moreover, ramping up trade with international partners – old, new and in all corners of the world – will be crucial to making a success of Brexit. This makes it doubly important to better connect firms to these markets, particularly through the Government’s commitment to a long-term aviation strategy and giving our regional airports a new lease of life.

“A strategic plan for delivery, tailored for each region, will also be needed for firms to feel devolution will truly make a difference when it comes to infrastructure.”

Firms want to see a more joined up approach to delivery across the different types of infrastructure, from housing to energy to transport, as well as strategic regional plans with a clear idea of where decisions will be made.

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