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Infrastructure in Britain, levelling up the country.
The Government’s current ‘levelling up’ agenda is a commitment to boost the Midlands and North of England. A key element of this agenda is an investment in infrastructure, thanks to the role it plays in boosting local economies and increasing social mobility.
Infrastructure delivery is a major contributor to economic growth. The energy sector contributes more than 738,000 jobs and in 2019 generated £95 billion in economic activity through the supply chain, highlighted in the 2021 report from Energy UK. The rail industry, which has significant projects in the pipeline, contributes £36.4bn to GDP according to The Economic Contribution of UK Rail, 2018, an ever-growing figure. And, once in place, infrastructure provides vital connections between cities, towns and villages, connecting communities to better job opportunities and people to businesses.
In the current economic climate with many working from home, public transport usage reduced and commuting less of an issue. The reduction of at least 40% in travel time from Birmingham to London seems trivial. However, as 2021 quickly corners the tracks, and the world begins a new return to more freedom of movement, having these methods of transport, faster, better, more efficient. This level of infrastructure in place prepares the country for new growth, to build, back, better.
New job opportunities
One of the biggest indicators of where future job opportunities will lie is in the current pipeline of projects that are either proposed, going through the planning system, or already on-site. Following the money is also a strong method of knowing where the future strengths and sought after areas of work will be.
The Government has committed to getting Britain to ‘build, build’ build’ and to deliver on its promise to ‘level up’ the country. In a post-Brexit world, the productivity and attractiveness of UK Plc is vital to remaining competitive on the world stage. Despite investment in northern regions being a key focus, more projects are currently proposed in the South East and South West.
Using the latest data from Glenigans Construction review, 2020, of the over 15,000 infrastructure projects in the pipeline for the South East, 47% or 7,249, have guideline commencement dates of 2021. Significant projects include supporting infrastructure for HS2 in Didcot, the IFA2 interconnector between England and France, and the Lower Thames Crossing.
In the North West where over 12,051 projects are proposed, 5,169 have guideline start dates in 2021, with investments ranging from £60,000 to £10.5bn. Upcoming projects in the area include Everton football stadium, a Metrolink connecting Bolton, Radcliffe and Bury and infrastructure to support thousands of new homes in Manchester, Liverpool and Lancaster.
The commitment to deliver large-scale projects will see infrastructure drive construction and ultimately create essential jobs for skilled workers. HS2 is forecast to create 22,000 jobs over the next few years. Other significant projects are focused on sustainable energy with offshore wind farms, tidal projects and nuclear power stations in the pipeline.