Ahead of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Budget, KPMG UK has launched its inaugural UK regional productivity performance report.
The report found that the South West’s infrastructure needs investment, if the region’s productivity is to improve.
The South West is one of the most economically diverse regions in the UK, with Swindon, Bristol and Bath winning the productivity race, while Cornwall is lagging behind.
Small businesses play a significant role in the region, and contribute more to the local economy than the national average.
Devolution of some powers and money to the West of England Combined Authority will improve the speed of decision-making and help focus on certain projects, it will not address the needs of the wider South West.
The report also found that the region is more export-orientated than the rest of the UK.
Strong sectors such as aerospace, specialist engineering and nuclear stand out from the report as areas that are ripe for focus and future investment.
Andrew Hodgson, senior partner for KPMG in Bristol, commented on the findings: “I hope next week’s Budget reflects the fact that investment is needed in the South West, if the region is to fulfil its potential.
“We are all too aware that our infrastructure is lagging way behind the rest of the country, and connectivity issues with our roads, railways and airports certainly has an impact on the region’s productivity.
“Of particular importance is the need to improve links to London by extending the electrification programme to include suburban rail services in Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset. Also a priority should be investment to improve rail and road links to Bristol Airport. In our more rural areas, urgent investment is needed to improve the digital infrastructure.
“More promising, however is that the report reaffirms the fact that the South West has a bustling SME community, who are making a notable impact. Small businesses should be encouraged to reap the benefits from growth hubs – such as Engine Shed in Bristol, to help them get to the next stage.”