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Better Connected: Transport links to boost jobs in the North

Transport for the North recently published their draft Strategic Transport Plan, after consultation with a number of civic and business leaders, outlining the need for improved transport connections across the north of England by 2050. The plan aims to drive growth to the region, improve access to jobs and close the economic divide between the North and South. All things that we at Newman Stewart are passionate about.

The Jobs Divide

Differences between the north and south have long been a topic of debate. Even where the divide begins geographically cannot be agreed on. In the South of England, the economy is composed of 14.3 million jobs, while the North houses 12.8 million jobs. In terms of actual job numbers, the South has gained more than 700,000 jobs since 2009, while the workforce in the North has increased by only 232,734 jobs, highlighting the ongoing disparity.

Potentially the strategic transport plan could deliver a £100 billion economic injection and 850,000 additional jobs to the north through investment in transport infrastructure. Namely improved rail links between major towns and cities, ongoing investment in improving the rail network, strengthening of the major road network and streamlining journeys with integrated public transport or smart travel. This would provide a much needed boost for businesses and the jobs market in the North.

Northern Opportunity

John Cridland, Transport for the North Chairman, said, “The North is a rich, diverse region and home to around 16 million people. We have vibrant communities, buzzing cities, five stunning national parks, an abundance of talent and a wealth of high-performing businesses. Transport for the North’s vision is of a thriving North of England, where modern transport connections drive economic growth and support an excellent quality of life.”

“For the first time, civic and business leaders and transport operators are speaking with one voice on transport to make sure the North fulfils its potential. Our plan proposes a revolutionary investment programme that will make it possible to travel to high quality jobs. This is an ambitious programme that will improve our roads and railways, and will also drive a sea change in skills development in the North and ensuring we meet that historic gap in investment.”

The plan centres around seven strategic corridors, identified as a way to link underperforming but high potential ‘assets’ or economic centres. It is hoped that the free movement of goods, services, knowledge and skills will lead to greater collaboration and further opportunity.

The Impact on Jobs

In an article published in the Telegraph in December which discussed the widening gap between the North and South of England, it said that more jobs will be created in London than other regions between now and 2020, mirroring most predictions. It went on to say that it would be difficult to stop this trend given the lack of investment in recent years. “The UK has made little progress on regional rebalancing over the past three years, and we expect more of the same over the next three years,” said EY’s chief economist Mark Gregory.

He went on to say that focus needs to be on the devolution of skills and that “Infrastructure links across the North would be another area – it links back to skills in the workforce as you can get more people into the right labour markets, with better transport and broadband.”

The plans outlined by Transport for The North are a step in the right direction, and certainly welcomed by Newman Stewart, but will it be enough? Transport users, individuals and businesses are now being asked to share their thoughts on the proposals through an online questionnaire to be completed during a thirteen-week consultation

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