Paul Tremble and Jim Coleman give their thoughts on today's Budget statement from Chancellor Rishi Sunak
Paul Tremble, Chief Strategy Officer at WSP, said:“The Office for Budget Responsibility’s improved economic outlook is certainly encouraging and should spur the Government on to pursue a recovery which is green, creates jobs and boosts prosperity in all regions of the UK.
“As someone who is proudly from the north-east of England, I’m particularly pleased to see Darlington chosen as the base for the new Treasury North and Teesside as the location of one of eight new freeports. These will create jobs and drive economic growth, supporting the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.
“The Chancellor’s continued support for transformative infrastructure projects as part of our economic recovery provides confidence to many. The £12bn commitment for the Leeds-based UK Infrastructure Bank is a timely investment in advance of COP26 and will play a key role in further helping to steer business and community decisions on renewable energy, low carbon transport and carbon capture projects.
“Though there has been recent positive news with the HS2 Phase 2a Bill receiving Royal Assent, we are still awaiting the Integrated Rail Plan which will provide clarity on vital future rail projects across the country. On Tuesday, Transport for the North published their Northern Powerhouse Rail network recommendations and we join them in calling on the Government to be ambitious in their investment plan for the north of England.
“Transformative infrastructure projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail will create tens of thousands of jobs, enable growth and connect communities, supporting the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.
“The UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic and our transition to a net zero economy must be fair and just. Though the Government has made clear this is its intention, we will only be successful if people and communities across the UK are made part of this journey in delivering such significant changes.”
PAUL TREMBLE, CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, WSP
Jim Coleman, Head of Economics at WSP, said:“In December, the Committee on Climate Change’s Sixth Carbon Budget made it clear how important the role of every individual in the UK will be if we are to meet our 2050 net zero target. There is much we can do in our day-to-day lives to make a difference but support from Government is welcome.
“As such, the introduction of the sovereign green savings bond is an exciting prospect and will allow people to take an active role in the UK’s transition to a net zero economy, by investing in sectors which are directly contributing to our low carbon future. We must bring everyone on this journey and initiatives such as this will be helpful.
“One area where we still need clarity is on the skills which are needed to deliver a net zero economy. The Prime Minister has announced previously that the Government will create and support up to 250,000 green jobs which is certainly promising, but we must identify exactly what skills are required in which industries quickly.
“The public, private and education sectors must work cohesively and at speed in what will be a monumental effort to upskill and reskill this future workforce. As we recover from COVID-induced recession, the net zero pathway must be used a major lever in getting more people into new low carbon industries.
“A particular highlight from today’s Budget was the announcement to establish eight new freeports in England, including Felixstowe and Harwich which WSP’s economic advisory team supported. Freeports confirm the Government’s commitment to levelling up and boosting regional economies, and in our post-Brexit economy, freeports have the potential to attract inward investment, increase trade and create jobs in higher-value industries. What we must remember, however, is that despite the competitive bidding process to become a freeport, those that are successful must now work together in order to benefit an integrated UK economy.”