Improved connectivity will drive productivity growth across much of the UK and help close the gap between regions, according to a new study published today by HS2 Ltd.
Drawing on the knowledge of over 100 employers, local authorities and universities, ‘HS2: Getting the best out of Britain’ highlights the regional strengths across the UK, but warns that more needs to be done to draw them together and realise their full potential in the modern economy.
David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd said: “This report is the evidence that HS2 will boost productivity in the north and Midlands.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to join up and amplify the many centres of excellence around the country, as we prepare to exit the European Union.
“By improving the connectivity between our major population centres HS2 will give businesses access to the skills, labour and services they need to change the economic geography of the country.”
The report shows that world-leading skills and research in the Midlands and the North can match that of London and the South East.
Cities and regions in the Midlands and North account for 32% of the UK’s research staff working in universities with high-quality research, compared to 35% in London and the South East, and high-quality universities produce thousands of graduates every year.
But as it gears up for the arrival of HS2, Leeds City Region is marching on with plans to make it the place to do business in the north.
The city has already achieved significant success in attracting professional and financial services, which includes being home to the UK’s fastest growing legal sector, but it can achieve more.
In Leeds City Region, the gap in productivity compared to the national average has widened over time.
If productivity measured by Gross Value Added per person matched the English average, the economy of the Leeds City Region would be almost £14 billion bigger.
Achieving higher levels of productivity is central to delivering the vision to be a globally recognised economy where good growth delivers high levels of prosperity, jobs and quality of life for everyone.
HS2 will make it easier for the region to realise its full potential, as it puts an end to the poor connectivity between the Midlands and the North.
Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport said: “This study clearly shows transport investment is crucial to a strong and resilient economy.
“That's why we are investing in all forms of transport including the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century to improve services for passengers – providing faster and better trains with more seats.
“As Britain's new railway, HS2 will deliver vital links between some of our country’s biggest cities, driving economic growth and productivity and helping to deliver the Government’s Industrial Strategy.
"By bringing our major cities, regions and communities closer together we are encouraging business and innovation and building a Britain that is fit for the future with a stronger economy and fairer society."
There’s a growing realisation that for local economies to truly thrive we must improve access to the people, skills, jobs, suppliers, new markets and financial institutions and investors that will enable businesses to grow.
“The transport network around London has given it easy access to these essential ingredients, allowing it to succeed in the modern economy, and the government has committed to delivering a transport system for the Midlands and the North which can rival that success.
Paula Dillon, president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce added: "There is already a lot of work going on to ensure that Leeds is ‘HS2 ready’ and we are working with stakeholders to ensure the business voice is heard as plans evolve so that economic benefit is maximised.
“Already we have seen plans for a new iconic rail station in the city which will accommodate HS2, classic rail services and future plans for a continuation of the high-speed network connecting Leeds and Manchester, Liverpool, Hull and Sheffield.
“Confidence in the city is very high at the moment and we are seeing interest and investment driven by the prospect of improved regional and national connectivity."