The Government needs to continue investing in the South East to avoid damaging the economic safety net for the whole UK, South East England Councils (SEEC) have told ministers in its response to the autumn spending review.
As the engine room of the UK economy, the South East contributes £18 billion more to the Treasury each year than it receives in Government funding.
The region’s money goes to support public spending in other areas of the country, so if the South East economy falters due to lack of investment everyone will suffer, says the SEEC.
The SEEC sets out its priorities for public investment to help maintain the South East’s globally competitive economy. These include:
• High-speed broadband to raise the UK’s international ranking
• Skills to support innovation and better productivity
• Major transport projects that will improve access for all UK businesses to South East ports and airports
• Affordable housing to support continued economic growth.
The SEEC also sets out what it calls "the need for continued investment to support the high number of people in deprived areas. Some 500,000 South East residents live in areas that rank in the 20% most deprived in the country, such as Hastings, Margate and Slough".
Paul Carter, chairman of SEEC, said: “Economic growth is essential to ensure a strong recovery from recession, but the price of growth elsewhere must not be a decline in South East performance due to underinvestment.
"We need continued investment to maintain our performance to ensure that as the ‘golden goose’ of the UK we are still able to provide the safety net that underpins the whole UK economy.
“We also need to guard against disproportionate cuts made because the South East is perceived as universally prosperous. In fact we have 500,000 people living in deprived areas – this is equivalent to 20% of the entire population in the North East of England – and we need public investment to support us in brining these areas up to the standards of the rest of the UK.”