Roads are critical to manufacturers. As I mentioned in a previous blog post our Transport for Growth survey earlier this year highlighted that over four-fifths of manufacturers rated the road network as critical to their business.
Investment in our road network has lagged behind requirement for decades, any analysis of new investments should be taken within the context of this historic underinvestment.
The Action for Roads announcement in the summer went someway in addressing this. While the planned investments are great, we can't afford to sit around and wait for 2015/16 for work to commence.
How can we get action for roads – now?
As part of the 2012 Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced the creation of the Local Pinch Point Fund (a similar programme was announced for the strategic road network managed by the Highways Agency). The Fund was set up for local authorities to bid to develop schemes which
address congestion or provide or improve access to key economic sites through solutions that can be delivered quickly, particularly ones which improve access to developments, urban employment centres and Enterprise Zones
Such small scale strategic schemes are important for growth, wider economic benefits and business invesment. Analysis as part of the 2006 Eddington Transport Study showed us small schemes often deliver better benefit-cost ratios than larger schemes.
Eddington assessment of economic returns of transport projects by scheme size
The Funding pot announced amounted to £190m, however the scheme was so popular that 170 bids requesting over £400m was received. 72 project bids were successful and by the end of this year 4 will have already been completed.
The spread of Local Pinch Point projects by start and completed year
The scheme has many merits:
- Department for Transport capital funding is only made available for projects starting in 2013/14 and 14/15. This not only provides a timely boost now but will help to sustain the recovery while gearing up supply chains for post 2015/16 investments
- Bids must come with matched funding, on the principle of additionally (i.e. the money should not have been earmarked for road projects anyway), incentivising local authorities to think more about the role transport plays in boosting jobs and growth
- Feedback suggests that a small number of the bids which were unsuccessful have received funding from other local sources, further strengthening the link between growth and local transport
On average, for every £1 invested from the Fund by the Department for Transport £1.70 is invested by local authorities.
Local Pinch Point Investment in 2013 and 2014
Should the Government announce another round of Local Pinch Point Funds to boost and sustain growth in this Parliament?