Kerslake urges Government to ‘go big or go home’

The chair of the UK2070 Commission, Lord Bob Kerslake, has called on the Government to invest an extra £200bn over the next 20 years to support growth outside of London, after the publication of a report today which reveals the extent of the economic gulf between the capital and the rest of the country.

The money would go into the newly created Shared Prosperity Fund taking the annual contribution up to £15bn.

The report, which is the result of an 18-month study, shows London’s productivity growth over the last decade was nine times higher than that of the area covered by the whole of the Northern Powerhouse.

The study also claims that the UK is the “most unequal large country in the developed world”.

Lord Kerslake said: “The Government’s desire to level up the UK economy is welcome. However, many people in Britain feel left behind by growth elsewhere and that has contributed to an acrimonious debate about Europe.

“Our research shows clearly that these inequalities did not grow up overnight. They reflect an over-centralised system which fails to comprehend the reality of regional need and consistently comes up with under-resourced, fragmented or short-lived policies.

“Time is not on our side and we cannot afford to keep on repeating those mistakes. Government must therefore think big, plan big and act at scale. Bluntly, if it can’t go big, it should go home.”

  • To read the full UK2070 Commission final report click here

Andrew Jones, cities lead for the UK at Aecom and a member of the commission, said: “The UK2070 report is an evidence-based analysis of where inequality in the UK lies and how government investment can bring about long term positive and impactful change.

“We found a clear need for a ‘connectivity revolution’. With better connections through our towns and regions, more communities can benefit from the economic growth. This will enable sustainable growth everywhere, but in particular be a driving force for areas where there are the biggest opportunities to catch up – HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail will be game-changing, but more connectivity around the big networks is needed.

“There needs to be a mechanism in place to assess which investments will have the greatest benefit. Rewriting the government’s assessment toolkit and having an overarching spatial plan will inform better evidence-based decisions about UK investments which will drive community, social and economic benefit.”

And David Williams, director of Turner & Townsend’s Manchester office, added: “The report has produced a clear call for action, and a programme of action to address regional inequalities across the UK. The call for greater regional devolution is strengthened by the scale of development we need to undertake across the North West as this will require local focus, on local needs, with local decisions.

 “The commission’s proposals resonate with programmes already underway across the region. These include Health & Social Care; Transpennine Rail Upgrades and Civic Quarter Heat Network. We need many more of these programmes to unlock the potential of the North.”



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