Long term economic plan for the south-west unveiled

HM Treasury

January 27
10:13 2015

The Prime Minister and Chancellor today (Monday 26 January) set out their six point long term economic plan for the south-west showing what has been delivered, what is underway and what more can be done to support the regional economy in the long term.

At a speech at the National Aquarium in Plymouth the Chancellor set out the detailed plan as part of a day-long tour of the south-west, on which he was joined by the Prime Minister.

Read the Chancellors speech in full.

The plan includes six points:

1)increase the size of the regional economy by 6.4bn in real terms by 2030 - equivalent to over 1,000 per person - by increasing the long term growth rate of the south-west to at least the long term growth rate of the whole UK

2)create over 150,000 new jobs in the south-west by supporting private businesses, advanced manufacturing and skills to ensure we maintain the current high rate of job creation

3)deliver at least 7.2 billion of investment in transport in the south-west and deliver a step change in digital connectivity, supporting the complete dualling of key roads including the A303, and the full electrification of Brunels Great Western Main Line including brand new electric trains, together with exploring the feasibility of a dedicated rail franchise for the south-west and delivering 95% superfast connectivity by 2017 through the governments superfast broadband programme

4)support the tourism sector to draw more people to the south-wests beautiful countryside and coastlines, with the aim of increasing the number of annual overseas visits to the south-west to 3 million by 2020, creating around 7,000 more jobs

5) ensure the world class defence assets and cyber security industry of the south-west provide the maximum benefit to the local economy; this includes new plans to expand the economic benefits of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in Devon, the Army at Salisbury Plain, and the defence industries near Bristol, so we sustain 59,000 defence industry, 36,500 military and 17,000 civilian defence jobs in the region.

6)build on the south-wests existing reputation in life and agricultural sciences and boost science more broadly, supporting tech clusters, green energy, promoting skills development and an innovative rural economy

There are no quick fixes to achieving these important goals, so the Prime Minister and Chancellor are also setting out a specific timetable to deliver the key concepts of this plan over the five years of the next parliament, and the following decade.

As important next steps in the plan for the south-west, the pair announced a number of new measures to improve transport links, boost tourism, and invest in defence:

  • developing a comprehensive rail strategy for the south-west by setting up a south-west Peninsula Rail Task Force this strategy will increase resilience, reduce journey times, and increase capacity, responding to the 3-point plan of the south-west Connectivity Study. It will also address the question of the potential re-opening the inland rail route between Exeter and Plymouth

  • Coastal Communities Fund (CCF): the Chancellor today announced the successful bids for the CCF, a 10m package which will support coastal communities and is estimated to bring over 75,000 visitors to the region. This investment will create over 860 new jobs (direct and indirect) and support over 225 businesses, generating over 12m in increased visitor spending

  • Chancellor announced a new 2m challenge fund as part of the GREAT Britain campaign to promote regions and cities including in the south-west, to international tourists, students and businesses. He also said that he wants to see government support for a Mayflower exhibition in Plymouth in the run up to the 400th anniversary in 2020

  • south-west will be a centre of operations for the Army, Navy, Royal Marines and cyber security. The Chancellor therefore today announced a 900m investment in the Salisbury Plain area to create new service and technical accommodation for the army. GCHQ will also continue to play a major role in supporting the cyber security industry in the region, including by recruiting over 400 cyber specialists, the majority of whom will work in the region

  • working with leading experts to support the south-wests technology and skills base: Mark Walport and Sally Davies bring together leading figures from industry, the NHS and academia to explore the potential for new proposals for investment in life sciences in the south-west, with a particular focus on medical technologies

As both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have set out clearly, the only way for the UKs recovery to be truly sustainable is for it to be truly national. While the challenge is significant, so is the prize ahead. By pursuing this plan, the Prime Minister and Chancellor, aim to achieve real outcomes for the people of the south-west who have already seen the fastest employment growth in the UK.

The Prime Minister and Chancellor will be visiting a variety of businesses and institutions across the south-west to hear how the governments long term economic plan is delivering for them and what more can be done to support the region.

The Chancellor will started the day by visiting a local fishing business in Cornwall, before delivering a key note speech at one of the south-wests best known tourist attractions.

He will go on to visit one of the south-wests largest defence employers before being joined by the Prime Minister to visit a local college and successful small business that has benefitted from the regions recovery under the governments long term economic plan.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne said in his speech:

The south-west contains some of Britains greatest economic strengths. It should be as central to our nations future prosperity as any other part of these islands. And the Prime Minister and I are determined that it will be.

Thats why I am here today, to set out our long term economic plan for the south-west - and why the Prime Minister will be joining me later today to seek local support for it. The plan I set out is based on this insight. Over the last thirty or forty years our economy has become more imbalanced, with the gap growing between London and the rest of the country. Our ambition is to reverse that - and it can be achieved.

He added:

What we need is a coherent plan that identifies those strengths, makes them stronger still - and connects them to each other so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you look at the south-west, stretching from Wiltshire and Bristol, to Somerset and Dorset, down to Cornwall and Devon, of course, you see the differences - they all have a unique identity. But you also see the strengths they have in common.

What are they? Theres the beautiful countryside and coastline that makes this one of the most attractive parts of the UK, and one of the most visited. Theres the industries that thrive in this landscape - the agriculture, the fishing and the tourism - that are more important here than many places. But theres also the great universities, the incredible science happening here, skills and high tech manufacturing associated with the strong relationship with our armed forces. Bring these ingredients together with better transport links and you have a very attractive place to invest, to grow a business and to build a life.

Speaking in Plymouth, he concluded:

So we have a long term economic plan for the south-west. It aims to create over a hundred and fifty thousand jobs. It seeks to add over 6 billion to the local economy equivalent to over 1,000 per person. It will support the future of our defence forces and capitalise on their economic benefit. It will deliver the next step for national cyber intelligence, and other world leading scientific innovation. It will make the most of the countryside and coastal towns.

Our long term plan for the south-west is about recognising the value of both its natural beauty and the economic strengths nurtured by the people who live here. It says that we can only have a truly national recovery if we get behind the private sector, put in the transport, support the tourism, the science and the industries of the future. And it says that if we do that: the future is bright in the west. It is a commitment to you and to your future. And with your help, we will help deliver it.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron said:

Our long-term economic plan for the south-west is about making life better for hardworking local people. It involves backing business to create more jobs, improving transport links and building on the regions strengths to secure a brighter future.

For too long, people living in this part of the country have suffered from Britains unbalanced economy from the growing gap between London and the rest. That is what this plan sets out to change to ensure that Britains recovery really is a recovery for all

Further information: timetable for action and implementation in the south-west 2015-2030



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