UK railway infrastructure
Inefficiencies in railway infrastructure obstruct regional access to airports and portsReuters

Improvement in regional infrastructure across the UK could potentially add £175bn ($224bn) to the economy over the next decade, according to a report by The Confederation of British Industries on Thursday (April 20).

According to the report 'Shaping Regional Infrastructure- Priorities for Growth', there is a three-fold disparity between the most and least productivity areas across the country. An improved infrastructure would better connect cities spread across various regions, helping the economy grow.

According to CBI's analysis, if each region of England grew at the same pace as the top performing cities had between 2004 and 2014 period, the country's economy could gain £175 billion by 2024.

With better links, businesses from the integrated regions would benefit from a broader labour market pool, better access to markets, and improved supply chain networks through agglomeration.

The report added that improvements in transportation across Northern England could potentially provide access to 16 million workers, the equivalent of the workforce living within an hour of London.

Moreover, with the UK set to withdraw from the European Union, access to global markets and supply chains, along with augmenting export capabilities becomes more important. The report revealed that flaws in the UK's roads and railways network obstruct efficiency in accessing airports and ports across the country. Ports in particular handle 95% of the UK's trade in goods.

CBI also revealed that UK businesses are not fully on board with the government's devolution policy, with only 47% believing that it would improve infrastructure within the region. However, clarity on a devolution blueprint, such as the Northern Powerhouse or Midlands Engine, appears to improve business confidence.

"England's infrastructure is the arteries and veins without which the country its economy and businesses simply would not function", said CBI Infrastructure Director Rhian Kelly.
"But with only a quarter of firms satisfied with the state of their region's infrastructure, it's vital the pace of taking action and delivering improvements is stepped up."