Regional moves would boost prospects, says employers’ organisation

The CBI has warned that in the face of widespread dissatisfaction there would have to be improvements to regional infrastructure across England if the country’s productivity was to be raised.

Such improvements would give England’s regions “the chance to improve links with international markets”, a new CBI report argues.

The employers’ organisation said the document, ‘Shaping Regional Infrastructure’, drew on conversations with members of the UK’s largest business group, Unlocking Regional Infrastructure, and the latest CBI/AECOM infrastructure survey, and “demonstrates the pressing need felt by businesses to enhance their infrastructure and connectivity across the country”.

Improving the links between regions would give firms access to a broader labour market pool and better connections to supply chains, the CBI said.

“With businesses across the country wanting a long term aviation strategy that makes the best use of regional airports, better links to these would be vital in connecting firms with new and existing international markets to which to export – particularly important post-Brexit,” it added.

CBI analysis showed that if each region of England grew at the same pace as the best performing area within each region did between 2004 and 2014, the gain to England’s economy could be £175bn by 2024, with infrastructure improvements playing an important role.

Rhian Kelly, the CBI’s infrastructure director, said: “England’s infrastructure is the arteries and veins without which the country its economy and businesses simply would not function.

“But with only a quarter of firms satisfied with the state of their region’s infrastructure, it’s vital the pace of taking action and delivering improvements is stepped up.”