Setting the agenda on infrastructure investment across the North

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The debate about infrastructure investment is expected to gather pace as the UK economy looks to regain lost ground – and your views are being sought.

The pandemic has been a watershed and now policymakers and influencers are looking to shape the direction of travel for regional investment.

“This is an opportunity to take stock and re-evaluate what we need,” said EY infrastructure tax partner Graham Wright.

“What are the themes that will drive growth in jobs and drive economic growth across the North, and how is that different within the regions of the North?

“What are the projects that will deliver against those objectives and against those themes?

“And the final piece is what are the actions that we can take as a business community, working closely with the public sector, to unlock those and accelerate that investment?”

EY infrastructure tax partner Graham Wright

EY is conducting research on this topic and has launched a survey to understand the views of business on what, if any, of the plans will make the biggest difference to the North and the steps that can be taken to “Accelerate the North”.

EY is a headline sponsor of the Invest North conference which takes place on March 24.

The one-day virtual event has the tagline, “Setting the agenda for what comes next in the North”, and nowhere is that more timely than in the debates about infrastructure investment.

The levelling-up agenda was gathering pace when the pandemic hit and this month’s Budget included some key announcements, led by the location of the new UK infrastructure bank in Leeds.

Wright said: “The infrastructure bank is one part of the jigsaw, and for that bank to be successful, it needs to crowd in the investment rather than crowd out, so it can’t simply replace investors and finance that are already there and willing to invest.

“Its role needs to be to put action and acceleration behind some of those projects that otherwise are proving more difficult to get off the ground.”

Infrastructure investment projects have been derailed by the pandemic, with the public and private sectors forced to put huge amounts of time and resources on responding to the impact of Covid-19.

“The pandemic has fundamentally shifted business as usual, and the decision-making around investment,” said Wright.

“This really is a chance to now look and say as a business community across the North, ‘what do we want to be famous for?’ and ‘how do we drive economic growth through infrastructure?’.

“This survey investigates how we unlock that. How do we make this a reality and exactly what is needed to drive some action around infrastructure investment? We want high quality data and will use the findings to inform high level discussions between business leaders, stakeholders and policy makers to across the region to help inform decision making on the infrastructure agenda.”

Click here to give your view in EY’s survey.


Invest North takes place later this month. Join 500+ people at the virtual conference and hear from 60+ leaders who will be setting the agenda for what comes next in the North.