Bolstering regional infrastructure will add £175bn to the UK economy by 2024, says CBI

Rebecca Smith
Businesses across the UK want a long-term aviation strategy to make the best use of regional airports
Businesses across the UK want a long-term aviation strategy to make the best use of regional airports (Source: Getty)

Unlocking higher productivity through bolstering regional infrastructure links could add £175bn to England's economy by 2024, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Of that, £12.7bn is attributable to London.

Read more: Government should cut business rates if there's a Brexit slowdown: CBI

The CBI has released a new report noting infrastructure as a key driver of productivity, connecting businesses to supply chains and a greater talent pool. This is particularly important for the North of England, where improved transport links could provide access to a population of up to 16m; the same number that is currently within an hour of London.

With Brexit on the horizon, there will need to be "a renewed focus" on delivering growth that is felt across all parts of the country and infrastructure will be a crucial part of this, the CBI added.

Its report found that the most productive area of the UK is now almost three times more productive than the least, with nine out of ten cities performing below the European average.

The CBI's analysis found that if London’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 £12.7bn by 2024.

A quarter of firms in the capital are dissatisfied with the state of their infrastructure and key concerns they flagged included increased airport capacity for both London and the UK, and Heathrow's expansion staying on track. Businesses also want infrastructure that brings growth beyond the city centre to the capital's outer boroughs, such as Crossrail 2.

Read more: These are the cities with the best infrastructure in the world

Eddie Curzon, CBI London director, said: "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," he added.

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.

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