It says ‘Exhibit 12 Transport infrastructure is a critical success factor in Wales Despite the established connection between economic growth and infrastructure, Wales has a growing infrastructure gap with England. Due to its geography, it is especially important for businesses based in Wales to have access to modern roads, rail, air and ICT infrastructure.
The Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan (WIIP) must set a clear pipeline for public-funded projects and unlock private sector investment in infrastructure. The Welsh government must ensure it puts the policy framework in place to support the prioritisation and delivery of nationally significant infrastructure. The M4 relief road is one example of a project which has a ‘more than local’ dimension, due to the potential to significantly boost economic growth right across south Wales. As a result, the WIIP must ensure these projects are fast-tracked and prioritised at every stage of the devolved policymaking process. The CBI believes the following key infrastructure should fall within the ‘nationally significant’ category: M4 relief road, electrification of the Great Western Mainline to Swansea, energy, next generation broadband and regionally important infrastructure.
The delivery of the M4 relief road remains the single most important infrastructure project in Wales. Efficient roads remain a constant priority for business across the whole of the UK. It is critical that the infrastructure is in place to underpin business efficiency and competitiveness. The priority remains connecting Wales with its key markets, as a result, that means east-west road links in North and South Wales. Delivery of the relief road is vital if we are to achieve the growth and jobs Wales urgently needs. CBI Wales will continue to work with the Welsh government and the UK government to find a workable solution as business is keen to play its part in delivering’
The report also sets out a number of ways in which the impact of UK Government growth incentives can be increased, including:
· Reducing the minimum bid threshold for the Regional Growth Fund to £500,000
· Giving preference to city or LEP bids that make funding available to SMEs.
· Expanding the geographic footprints of Enterprise Zones.
· Reassessing the size of Enterprise Zones and their business rate rebates, and include increases in value, as well as stock, in the Business Rate Retention Scheme.
The Government should give LEPs statutory status so they can take a lead role in shaping their local economies. Although the report says 50% of businesses surveyed expect LEPs in their current shape to have little or no impact on growth, 67% of business respondents say that better financial resourcing would make LEPs more successful. The CBI is calling for:
· The Government to make future LEP funding streams dependent on cross-LEP collaboration.
· Where appropriate, the Government should work to ensure City Deals can be agreed over the same geography as LEP areas.
· The UK has under-invested in infrastructure and is now ranked 24th in the world for overall infrastructure quality.
Supporting private sector growth will require a focus on connecting economic hubs to national and international markets, particularly in the North, and relieving bottlenecks in UK networks in and between cities. The Government must:
· Bring forward further Tax Incremental Financing (TIF 2) schemes in urban areas outside the core cities, to allow more local authorities to borrow against increased tax revenue generated by new infrastructure.
· Where appropriate, incentivise LEPs to work in partnership with one another to plan for larger-than-local transport projects by providing additional funding and further powers over transport planning.
The full report is HERE