HomeWhat's NewSEEC NewsGREATER INVESTMENT IN SOUTH EAST NEEDED AS SURPLUS OVERTAKEN BY LONDON

GREATER INVESTMENT IN SOUTH EAST NEEDED AS SURPLUS OVERTAKEN BY LONDON

GREATER INVESTMENT IN SOUTH EAST NEEDED AS SURPLUS OVERTAKEN BY LONDON

South East England Councils (SEEC) are calling on Government to increase South East infrastructure investment, as new figures show that the South East economy is failing to deliver its full potential for UK plc.

Data produced for SEEC by independent experts Oxford Economics shows that since 2013/14 South East net financial returns to Treasury have fallen behind London. This means the South East economy is punching below its potential in contributing to the Treasury’s ability to fund infrastructure and public services UK-wide.

SEEC members believe that without more infrastructure investment in the SEEC area, the South East economy will be disadvantaged and fall further behind. This lost potential will reduce Treasury’s spending power, reduce global competitiveness and will increase UK reliance on London’s economy alone as the major source of public spending.

Over the past three years, London made a net ‘profit’ for the Treasury that was £21.6bn more than the South East contribution. This is a reversal of the long term trend, which saw the South East contribute a net profit of £154.4bn from 2000/01 to 2015/16 – compared to £125.5bn from London over the same period.

SEEC members argue the changing fortunes are down to different levels of public spending, including areas such as transport and enterprise/ employment investment. The new data shows a growing gap in per-capita public spending: London rose from £7,056 to £12,628 between 2000/01 and 2015/16 while the South East rose from £5,274 to £10,334.

Cllr Nicolas Heslop, SEEC Chairman, said: “The South East is not getting the opportunity to deliver its full potential. This is a wake-up call to Government that our profitability is at risk if we cannot secure the infrastructure investment the South East needs. Figures show the South East has a £15.4bn infrastructure gap between now and 2030 – that’s just 10% of the profit we have made for Treasury since 2000. We want Government to re-invest a fair share of our net profit in South East transport, skills and hi-tech infrastructure so we can maximise economic growth to benefit UK plc.”

Cllr Roy Perry, SEEC Deputy Chairman, said: “The South East is still growing, but more slowly than it could if we had the same levels of investment as London. These figures show you can’t take us for granted. The South East competes internationally for foreign investment but incoming businesses need better road, rail, air and sea links that enhance our excellent strategic location – otherwise they may choose Europe or the Middle East. The South East economy has a proud history of delivering a surplus for UK plc but we need more of our profits re-invested here to ensure we continue to deliver.”