Autumn Statement 2014: Focus should be on fiscal devolution to close the North-South divide, says KPMG

Autumn Statement 2014: Focus should be on fiscal ...

Richard Threlfall, UK Head of Infrastructure, Building and Construction at KPMG comments that the last 12 months have seen a pick-up in the UK economy but the momentum must be maintained.

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Richard Threlfall, UK Head of Infrastructure, Building and Construction at KPMG comments ahead of this week’s Autumn Statement:

“The last 12 months have seen a real pick-up in the UK economy but the challenge now is to maintain the momentum and invest for the future. Above all, the Government must clarify its position on Sir John Armitt’s proposed Infrastructure Commission and bring forward proposals for fiscal devolution to UK city regions that could finally unlock investment in the Midlands and the North to rebalance the economy. 

“Infrastructure investors need clarity and consistency in the UK’s infrastructure planning. The Autumn Statement is an opportunity for the Government to set out its position on Sir John Armitt’s Infrastructure Commission, and if it has an alternative, to detail that. The infrastructure community will welcome a further update of the National Infrastructure Plan, but will be looking for more emphasis on a long-term vision for investment.

“The proposed devolution of income tax powers to Scotland piles pressure on Westminster to agree fiscal devolution for our major city regions. Currently, the level of local tax raising powers in the UK, at just 2% of GDP, is almost pointlessly low. Sir David Higgins has recently proposed the creation of a northern transport body – Transport for the North. I welcome that, but without the ability to raise taxes and invest, it will be unable to achieve anything of significance. If the Government really wants to unlock investment in the north to rebalance the economy, fiscal devolution is key. The ball will then be back in the court of local political leaders from Liverpool to Hull to bury the hatchets of long-standing rivalries and work together to build a common vision for a resurgent North.

“The Government has shown over recent years that it understands the critical link between infrastructure investment and the UK’s economic prosperity and competitiveness. Longer-term planning and fiscal devolution to our major city regions, could turbo-boost that investment, leading to the development of regional infrastructure funds and drawing in much higher levels of private capital, ultimately to the benefit of the country as whole.”


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About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 11,500 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.8 billion in the year ended September 2013. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 155,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.

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