Remember: the first Industrial Revolution was driven by regional capitalby Stephen Hammond / March 22, 2018 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
It is a tenet of this government’s economic policy that regional imbalances must be addressed to boost productivity. The news that productivity has seen an uptick in the last two quarters is welcome. However, the need for investment remains. Few would disagree with the proposition that infrastructure is a key driver of economic growth and productivity. To many, infrastructure just means transport—it must also mean housing, access to broadband, utilities and energy.
Infrastructure creates jobs, raises incomes and regional growth. So when people ask whether HS2 is worth it and whether it will help people outside London, the answer to both is unequivocally yes. The increased capacity and connectivity will make regions more accessible, will bring investment and jobs.
Evidence suggests that HS2 will be even more effective if it links into fast transport systems in other major conurbations in the North. More jobs will be created if industrial and housing developments occur alongside new transport and utility projects. This highlights the principle that, though there must be a UK-wide strategy for infrastructure, national schemes must be integrated into local projects.
Why isn’t there a Minister of Infrastructure based in the Treasury?
The National Infrastructure Commission is a key part of being able to deliver a national strategy. But if we accept that infrastructure will drive growth and productivity, why isn’t there a Minister of Infrastructure based in the Treasury? The next reshuffle should see this rectified.