‘Commuting in the North can be a gamble in terms of delays and disruptions’
Much like a community, businesses are interrelated. They need to work together and need to have connectivity that is not just via technology. The idea of infrastructure is therefore paramount.
Infrastructure is the physical and organised structures that help our businesses, on a day to day basis, to operate throughout the country. It would be logical to think that the government would see infrastructure as a priority to ensure that, at the very least, the transportation would work efficiently.
A lot has been said about this recently in terms of the delays and issues for commuters. It’s not just the individuals impacted by this poor infrastructure, it clearly also has an effect on businesses from delays in staff getting to work, to the ability to allow delivery of goods. I have recently had several discussions with businesses who have felt that, in Yorkshire, their voices are just not heard.
What I wanted to understand was the real impact on businesses in terms of productivity, connectivity, loss and the impact, if any, on the individual. From a personal perspective commuting in the North from region to region can be a gamble in terms of delays and disruptions. This impacts not only the amount of time out of the office, but also stress and how we plan our day in terms of childcare or other dependants.
Stepping back a little, I accept that delivery of any form of infrastructure across the country has its own unique challenges in terms of what each regional area requires. The CBI/AECOM infrastructure report highlighted two main themes of concern:
1. Linking regions’. This would allow for growth and improve connectivity between regions.
The idea is, by improving links between the UK’s largest cities, this will help drive growth and productivity by allowing businesses to access a larger pool of labour, “a wider range of markets and better connections to supply chains”.
2. ‘Improving regional connectivity with international markets’. The concern here is, what about postBrexit? The report identified that we needed to allow for a competitive advantage and this could only be achieved by an “integrated transport system”. The report went on further to say that this would be improved through a combination of aviation and road developments. In particular, having local airports and connectivity for transportation of goods.
More locally, the CBI/AECOM report found that:
■ 55 per cent of businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber (are) dissatisfied with infrastructure in the region. This is higher than the national average of 46 per cent.
■ 73 per cent of businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber believe that greater devolution would improve infrastructure in the region, which again is higher than the national average of 47 per cent. We know what is wrong fundamentally – it is well documented and voiced. The infrastructure does not work efficiently and the North is being ignored to the detriment of the country as a whole.
What real investment is being made? Based on the new data from the Institute for Public
Policy Research, who reviewed and considered all public and public/private spending, and spending from central and local governments, including all combinations of these where possible, their figures showed that when we include spending up to 2020/21:
Planned transport investment in
London is almost
2.6 times higher per capita than in the North.
£4,155 spending per capita is planned in London, compared to just £1,600 in the North.
As a whole, planned spending in London is almost five times more per capita more than in the North East (£855 per capita) or in Yorkshire and the Humber (£844 per capita), the lowest of all English regions
The North West is set to receive more than the England regional average, at £2,439 per capita, but this is still far less than London.
The figures are astounding, but coupled with the cost of this summer’s transportation issues, the financial impact is eyewatering. Looking at an analysis from the Northern Powerhouse, in relation to transport (in particular, rail) issues in summer 2018, the cost to businesses in
“the Northern Powerhouse [was] more than £37m” the report also revealed “up to £1.3m [was lost] a day at the height of the disruption” and “up to one million hours of lost time from commuting, work and leisure travel was lost on Northern Rail trains alone”.
We also need to consider: what is the real impact?
The true impact is far more reaching than just connectivity and productivity.
By improving this aspect of the infrastructure you are also allowing a greater chance for the growth of the economy which then has a more personal impact on individuals and their communities in ways that cannot be quantified, such as more family time, better organisation for childcare, and less stress upon the individual.
OFF THE RAILS:Transport issues over the summer cost businesses in the Northern Powerhouse more than £37m, it is claimed.