Mayor welcomes bold action on COVID-19 and investment in housing, infrastructure and growth but urges government to retain focus on funding for the regions to deliver on levelling up promise

Responding to yesterday’s budget laid before Parliament, James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has praised the decisive action taken by the government in tackling COVID-19, as well as funding announced for more affordable housing, upgrading transport and investment in furthering skills and stimulating local growth.

The Mayor cautions the government, however, not to lose sight of the importance of funding for local government and the devolved regions, if it is to achieve its ambition of tackling regional inequality across the country.

Mayor James Palmer said:

“The government should be commended for putting their money where their mouth is and putting up £30 billion of funding to keep this country and our people as healthy and financially secure as possible until the threat from COVID-19 passes.

“There are some significant local wins in this Budget, in particular the announcement to bring forward the delivery of a new train station for Cambridge South by five years, something we have campaigned for some time, as well as funding to improve the junctions on the Ely to Cambridge stretch of the A10. We will continue to work with government to progress plans for East-West Rail and in developing the spatial strategy for the OxCam Arc, as well as the white paper on further devolution.

“We are pleased to see the government recognising the need to invest in housing and transport infrastructure simultaneously through a Single Housing Infrastructure Fund. As we found through the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Independent Economic Review, you cannot simply build more housing without the infrastructure to support it.

“The government’s renewed commitment to increasing the supply of affordable housing is also welcome and we will work with local authorities to take advantage of further opportunities, including £400 million brownfield redevelopment fund.

“The continued investment in the Local Growth Fund, which supports local businesses to scale up, is appreciated and will give stability to businesses during a time of economic uncertainty. We will work with government on their ambition to improve adult skills, having successfully re-focused our devolved Adult Education budget to help people back into work and boost key employment skills and support growth.

“However, if the government is serious about its levelling up agenda – and it should be – it must retain focus on and funding for all the regions. The evidence shows the UK has the highest level of regional inequality of any large wealthy country in the world, and that is not just in the North and Midlands. To deliver on the task of levelling up economic opportunity, revitalising communities and boosting the life prospects of everyone across the nation, it is vital there is adequate funding for the regions to build new transport networks, deliver affordable housing solutions that work for their patches, boost training in relevant employment sectors and support local businesses to flourish.

“I will continue to lobby government for their support in the delivery of our agenda to reduce inequality in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, including;

  • Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro, a mass transit system that will transform transport connectivity across Greater Cambridgeshire and beyond,
  • the University of Peterborough, the UK’s first hybrid university, delivering courses in collaboration with local businesses,
  • £100K Homes, an innovative housing solution to make homes available for £100,000 and,
  • the dualling of the A47, which will open up economic opportunity for the whole Eastern region.”