The Prime Minister has confirmed his commitment to building HS2 in its entirety, responding to the CBI’s calls for this crucial investment in the UK regions to be delivered in full.
The CBI welcomed the decision that marked a decisive move to lift business confidence, and one that will ultimately create 500,000 new jobs and deliver thousands of new homes, while helping to improve much needed east-west, as well as north-south connectivity across the country.
While the details of the government’s plan for the project are not yet fully disclosed, the ambition is to appoint a Minister to oversee the project. Integrating investments including Northern Powerhouse Rail could also be positive step forward.
Leading the campaign
Over the six months since government launched Douglas Oakervee’s independent review of the project, the CBI has consistently been at the forefront of efforts to champion the project, both on a national scale and in the regions. Be it through a coordinated intervention from all six of the Regional Chairs along the line, or through regular media interventions.
No other industry organisation has worked as closely with key stakeholders in the project, including HS2 Ltd, the companies engaged in building it, and a wide range of local and national government leaders to understand its true value to UK business.
Drawing on its cross-economy membership, the CBI has also given a voice to the broad cross-section of sectors and regions impacted by the review.
We joined with leaders in construction, amongst other sectors, in writing to the Prime Minister to explain the devastating impact cancelling the project could have on the UK economy. And we’ve taken time to understand the needs of businesses across the UK regions who stand to benefit from the important wave of investment that will come from the project. CBI Regional Directors have consistently joined with local business and political leaders to argue the case for the delivery of the project in full in Yorkshire and Humber, the North West, the West and East Midlands, amongst other areas of the country.
Government heard business’ voice
The announcement represents a significant win for UK business. By backing the project in its entirety, the new government has shown that it is willing to reach out to the business community and take the CBI’s campaign for better regional connectivity seriously.
The CBI’s Chief UK Policy Director, Matthew Fell noted how the announcement represents the first of several important steps towards government delivering on its ‘levelling-up’ agenda.
The journey ahead
Going forward, the CBI will continue to play a proactive role, advocating for the project to be delivered as fast as possible, at the best value for money, while still meeting the needs of businesses in the north, midlands, and across the UK.
And we won’t stop there. The delivery of HS2 in full is only part of a much wider package of investments in critical infrastructure that the UK needs to be globally competitive in the future. The CBI will keep making the case for better regional connectivity, including through our campaign on the future of commuting.
If you would like to discuss our work on HS2, or wider infrastructure projects in further detail, please contact our transport policy lead, Freddie Hopkinson, to find out more.