Helping ministers deliver economic growth across all UK nations and regions provides us with an excellent starting point.
The upcoming Budget – which Richmond MP Rishi Sunak will now preside over as Chancellor – will set this train in motion, with bold action on skills, net zero, innovation and infrastructure in Yorkshire to kick-start new decade of growth and investment. Not just one announcement, or one year, but a decade of commitment to help us deliver our economic potential.
The start of 2020 has seen a welcome lift in business confidence. This historic, first budget of a new decade offers the chance to turn rising optimism into an investment surge across the UK.
It is the private sector that will lift productivity and enable all parts of the country to share in economic growth. It is also the key to building the UK into a global innovation leader.
Business strongly welcomes the Chancellor’s vision to level up communities and is committed to playing its full part. Private sector investment has fallen over the past couple of years. And this Budget offers the opportunity to reverse this decline through pro-enterprise economic policy.
The Prime Minister recommitting to delivering HS2 was a vital first step and is exactly the sort of bold, decisive action required to inject confidence in the economy.
It sends the right signal around the world that the UK is open for business. Built in its entirety, the project has been shown to be so much more than a railway line – it’s a modernisation plan that will stimulate economic growth, housebuilding and skills development across the Midlands, North and further afield.
To build on this, the CBI recommends a set of practical steps for this Budget. Here are a few starting points. In Yorkshire we need see real action. With that in mind we want to see a series of concrete steps, firstly on business rates, which puts many parts of the UK economy at a competitive disadvantage, underlining the need for a comprehensive review.
The Apprenticeship Levy is holding back skills investment in Yorkshire and adding costs and complexity to businesses at a critical time for our economy and the workforce. An extensive review of the levy to ensure it can support a wider range of training should be launched and completed by the next Budget later in 2020
The Government’s National Infrastructure Strategy is welcome and should as a first step commit to delivering all parts of HS2, in full, to unlock capacity and transport connections across the North.
In Yorkshire, we want to see more investment unlocking growth by East Coast Main Line upgrades, upgrades to the Calder Valley Line and TransPennine Route.
Investment in innovation investment drives good jobs and global strength but is currently concentrated in the South. The UK should establish a network of world-class Catapult Quarters, high-quality research hubs throughout Yorkshire to build on local strengths, develop low carbon zones and support innovation clusters.
At the start of this new decade, firms are feeling more optimistic and want to invest. This historic Budget offers the chance to turn rising optimism into a surge in investment across the UK. Backed by a pro-enterprise Budget for skills, infrastructure and innovation, business can help kickstart a new decade of UK growth and job creation.
And it is investment that will enable all regions of the UK to share in rising prosperity. It will put the UK on track to lead the world in innovation, clean growth and the industries of the future, from AI and robotics to agri-tech and life sciences.
Trade policy will continue to matter, but with strong domestic policy, British firms are ready to invest and get the UK into the fast lane of global economies.
Beckie Hart is the Yorkshire and the Humber regional director of the CBI.