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Transport infrastructure should be given priority, say SMEs

25 November 2014 #Logistics #News #Policy #Top Stories

Business leaders are calling for the government to devolve transport budgets to local authorities and give priority to infrastructure developments, in order to help future business growth.

Chartered accountants Grant Thornton UK LLP has collated the thoughts of more than 100 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) about Chancellor George Osborne’s proposed Autumn Statement.

Robert Hannah, Board Member for the Regions at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said, “Businesses have told us that they see the benefits of more joined-up local strategies that support business growth, but that this must avoid the creation of more bureaucracy and additional costs. As the Autumn Statement nears, the needs of dynamic medium-sized businesses need to be taken into account by government. They have continually contributed a disproportionately large amount to the UK economy and job market, and policy makers need to do more to unlock their further potential.”

The general feeling from the research is that further investment and control over local transport infrastructure by regional authorities will help stimulate growth for businesses across the UK. It also highlights that 57% of SME leaders consider road transport a higher priority than rail, with 59% in favour of devolving power to local authorities.

The group adds that specific priorities for the road investment should focus on reducing congestion, improving motorway, city links and the condition of the highways.

However, business leaders indicate that due to the national strategic importance of the road and rail networks, the control of major decisions should remain in Westminster.

Hannah added, “George Osborne is expected to focus on enabling the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ in the upcoming Autumn Statement and these results are a clear indication from business that to help make this happen there needs to be a focus on three key issues; skills training, international air routes from regional airports and improved inter-city road and rail links across northern cities.”

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