Call for improved infrastructure in North Somerset to aid economic recovery
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Targeted action to boost skills and develop physical and digital infrastructure is vital if North Somerset is to attract the inward investment needed to recover and thrive after the pandemic, says a new report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
The CBI’s Reviving Regions paper highlights long-standing regional inequalities across England which inhibit growth, opportunity and productivity.
It says the disparities in economic performance are large, both across England and within regions, and warns they are at risk of widening further if Government levelling-up ambitions falter in the wake of Covid-19.
The paper calls for a long-term strategic vision to guide the country through a vital post-Covid recovery and towards long-term prosperity.
For the South West, improvements to infrastructure – ranging from enhanced digital connectivity to rail and road projects – have the potential to be transformational, as well as more funding for training and retraining.
The pandemic has undermined the South West’s traditionally-strong levels of employment, and large numbers of workers remain furloughed – equipping them with new skills can protect individual livelihoods and support communities.
Susan Davy, CBI South West chairman, said: “The South West is a region with many examples of excellence, ranging from thriving cities like Bristol and Exeter to outstanding strength in sectors like advanced engineering, digital innovation and green industries.
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“Yet these successes are not spread evenly, even within the region. Skills gaps and pockets of low productivity restrict opportunity and prosperity in parts of the South West, and challenges around connectivity – both physical and digital – have seen slow progress.
“Action on these issues is vital if the region is to enjoy a fair and sustainable recovery."
Underpinning all of this is a call to empower local and regional leaders to create a culture where businesses can thrive.
North Somerset Council's deputy leader Mike Bike said: "I welcome the CBI report which is buzzing with good ideas to help revive our national and regional economy through Covid recovery.
"Business is calling on the government to give more powers and resources to local leaders to drive investment and growth and they are right to do so.
"North Somerset's own economic plan is founded on three key pillars, including inclusive growth and wellbeing for local people, delivering digital access for all and supporting green business growth.
"It is good to see the CBI echo these priorities in its report."