Government vows infrastructure push to drive industrial strategy

The government will use additional infrastructure funding to unlock growth and help more evenly distribute economic prosperity across the country, according to its industrial strategy, published yesterday.

Infrastructure: green paper sets out measures to improve regional connectivity
Infrastructure: green paper sets out measures to improve regional connectivity

A green paper, Building Our Industrial Strategy, published for consultation today, sets out the government’s strategy to address long-term challenges to the UK economy.

A key plank of this, the document says, is to improve infrastructure to boost economic growth in struggling areas.

"Infrastructure supports the other pillars of a modern industrial strategy. Good transport infrastructure does not just reduce delays; it can raise productivity by enabling towns and cities to achieve agglomeration effects, and so support the rebalancing of our economy.

"Better connected towns and cities have deeper labour markets, greater competition and greater economies of scale, leading to higher growth and living standards", the document says.

The consultation also says that infrastructure investment can "encourage private investment in housing-building on much-needed but more challenging sites".

The green paper says that the government wants to better "align the planning of infrastructure more effectively with local growth priorities to ensure more places benefit".

"Infrastructure decisions will be better matched with local economic plans to boost productivity locally and support places that have suffered historical underinvestment".

The consultation says that the government will use "additional infrastructure funding to unlock growth in areas where connectivity is holding it back by creating new funding which allow better coordination of local economic plans with infrastructure investment".

The document says that housing "is a key factor in driving economic growth" and that the forthcoming Housing White Paper "will seek to ensure housing supply is more responsive to changing patterns of demand, and flexes as the industrial strategy takes effect".

The consultation says that we should "confront the fact that our economy is one of the most centralised in the world".

It says that "evidence and experience suggests that strong, streamlined, decentralised governance – such as through our city deals, growth deals and mayoral devolution deals – can improve economic decisionmaking and spur innovation and productivity gains".

Ahead of the launch of the strategy, the government this morning announced £556 million of new funding "for the Northern Powerhouse to help create jobs, support businesses and encourage growth".

The money will go to the 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships in the region to spend on projects including an integrated transport facility at Goole; a new conference centre for Blackpool; flood resilience measures in Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Kirklees and Leeds, and a new advanced manufacturing park in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

The consultation runs until 17 April 2017.

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