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Public backs fiscal stimulus to improve road and rail links

New Mace report calls for £2bn injection at Autumn Statement to deliver regional connectivity upgrades to the transport system, as figures reveal shaving 60 seconds off journey times could deliver annual economic boost of over £3bn.

 

The Chancellor should use next week’s Autumn Statement to invest in Britain’s roads and railways and to spend more money on boosting technical training and Apprenticeships, according to a new poll published today.

 

The YouGov poll of 1682 people commissioned by the construction consultancy Mace found that twelve times as many people think Brexit makes it more important to invest in our transport infrastructure (49%) than those who do not (4%). Recent analysis by the World Economic Forum ranked the UK 24th in for quality of transport infrastructure, behind countries like Iceland, Portugal and Luxembourg.

 

The findings also reveal that the public feels too much money is being spent on universities to the detriment of vocational courses. Over 40% of respondents wanted to see funding diverted from universities to improving the quality of Apprenticeships and technical training. A recent paper by the think tank Policy Exchange highlighted how universities are sitting on reserves of over £12billion and called for over £500million of public funding to be redirected to improve the quality of Further Education.

 

To coincide with the poll, Mace has published its own report, Bang for Buck: the economic value of inter-city connectivity improvements, which finds that targeted spending on improving connection times between regional towns and cities could unlock major economic growth across the UK.

 

The work, compiled by a former Treasury economist using government estimates of the economic value of accelerated journey times, shows that reducing journeys by an average of just 60 seconds on key regional routes would haul in £17 billion of new economic value over the next five years.

The findings show much of the economic gains would be felt outside London:

 

- The north of England would see some of the greatest gains, with a 60-second average journey reduction for passengers yielding £1 billion a year from improved productivity

 

- The Midlands economy would see £750 million a year of benefits, by reducing journey times by an average of 60 seconds

 

- Transport experts at Mace believe a one-off injection of £2 billion at the Autumn Statement could pay for upgrades targeting areas with the greatest potential, namely regional city connections, and the right schemes, such as road widening or rail signalling upgrades. The £17bn benefit derives from increased productivity and giving people and businesses more reliable connections to jobs and markets.

 

Jason Millett, COO of Major Programmes and Infrastructure at Mace, said: “As we take steps to leave the EU, it is critical to maintain progress on projects like HS2 and Heathrow that will make the UK an attractive place to invest. But our research also shows the big growth potential in smaller, regional transport investments and we call on the Chancellor to deliver this Brexit boost in his Autumn Statement.” 

Bang for buck economic report:

Download report 38.8KB PDF

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