Spending Review

An assessment of the Spending Review from a “Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough” perspective.

This week’s spending review was always going to be difficult. It seemed to be well thought through but I suspect the devil will be in the detail.  I think that the Government is using the financial situation to drive through its “Small Government” agenda which is probably a good idea but I do worry whether the private sector can expand quickly enough to absorb the 490,000 public sector jobs

Our local area should be an engine for growth in the overall economy but if we are to compete with other centres of global innovation like Shanghai, Barcelona, Seoul and Boston we need to match their levels of infrastructure investment.  I didn’t see any evidence of this in this week’s announcements.

There was a transport infrastructure investment of £30Bn over 3 years but when you look at the detail there were no schemes that help our local transport infrastructure problems. It is absolutely clear that the Government has no intention of dealing with the A14 issue.

  • £530m is being invested in digital infrastructure but with the caveat that this is only for areas that private investment cant fund.
  • Our region has a world class University and an innovative technology cluster but is highly dependent on education strategy.  I must admit that I don’t really understand the effects of removing financial caps on University fees – but it just doesn’t feel right!
  • The Defence review seems to be more about cutting than creating capability.  There are lots of comments about use of UAVs but no discussion of how the UK should build a “best in class” UAV industry – or how this will be funded!!

So I think that this is probably a very good “spending review” for the country but it does not help “Cambridgeshire + Peterborough” continue to compete internationally.

It is absolutely sensible to cut recurring revenue and re-evaluate “non-recurring” revenue projects.  To engage the private sector there need to be access to “sources of funds” and a “quantifiable” payback.  However “markets” need to be functioning properly and there does need to be some consumer confidence if you are to secure “quantifiable” payback from the investment.

This week’s exercise has pruned recurring revenue and halted non-viable projects but the next stage is a lot harder!!  I hope the LEP has some good ideas and is ready to take some decisive action – I don’t think we will be getting any help from central government

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