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INVEST IN OUR SUCCESS, SAYS SOUTH EAST

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Government must invest more in the South East to make sure we maintain our successful economy and good quality of l...
Government must invest more in the South East to make sure we maintain our successful economy and good quality of life.

Advice to Government from the South East England Regional Assembly and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) argues that the region needs more money to create a new infrastructure fund that will support essential improvements such as better transport, more schools and hospitals.

Government asked for advice on how to spend regional budgets for economic development, transport and housing (1). The South East's combined budget for these three areas in 2006-7 is£685 million (around 1.5% of total public spending in the region).

An extra 10% a year for the next 10 years would help set up the infrastructure fund, supplemented by income from a new planning development levy being proposed by Government (2).

Key spending priorities for the region are transport improvements to help regenerate the region's coast, more affordable homes and improving skills to bring 250,000 non-workers back into the job market.

Cllr Keith Mitchell, Chairman of the Assembly, said: 'As the country's economic powerhouse, the South East's success is critical not just to our own quality of life, but to quality of life in the rest of the country. It is our goal to ensure the region continues to prosper but we can only do that with more investment. The South East contributed a net£11 billion to the Treasury last year and more of that money needs to be invested back in the region both through regional and national spending to ensure we provide the services that we all need to meet that goal.'

James Brathwaite, Chairman of SEEDA, said: 'The South East faces three particular challenges: global competitiveness; 'smart' growth to achieve prosperity through increased productivity and employability; and hard choices to deliver environmental sustainability - recognising that in our region quality of life is a competitive advantage. It is clear that the global economy is changing faster than ever and we need to develop new pathways to sustainable prosperity, but these require investment in the infrastructure of successful economies - transport, housing, skills - the new connectivity of the knowledge age. There is no comfort zone for the South East economy - investment must be found for funding and delivering infrastructure matching the speed with which the emerging economies of China and India are creating new and exciting futures for their people.'

Notes

(1) Regional Funding. Government asked all eight English regions to provide spending advice through the 'Regional Funding Allocations' process. Each region has been given indicative funding levels through to 2016. The South East's advice to Government is available online http:www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/our_work/advocacy/rfa.html

(2) Planning development levy. Government has proposed a 'Planning Gain Supplement'. This would be a levy on developers to help fund infrastructure needed to support new homes. The Assembly has given a cautious welcome to the levy http:www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/news/releases/2006/25jan.html

The South East England Regional Assembly

1) The South East England Regional Assembly is the 'voluntary regional chamber' for the South East. It was established in January 1999 to give a representative voice to the South East region, which covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East and West Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, and Surrey.

2) The Regional Assembly is made up of 112 members including elected councillors nominated by the region's local authorities and 37 representatives from other sectors of the community (including business, trades unions, education, housing, health, sports, culture, tourism, faith groups, environmental, community and voluntary organisations) as well as the New Forest National Park Authority.

3) The Assembly has three areas of core business:

a) It is the representative voice of the South East, engaging and representing its member organisations and, through them, the wider public.

b) The Assembly has a specific role under the Regional Development Agencies' Act 1998 to ensure the accountability of the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) to the region.

c) The Assembly has been the Regional Planning Body for the South East since April 2001. It has responsibility for proposing strategic planning and transport policies to Government.

Please visit the South East England Regional Assembly's website for further information at www.southeast-ra.gov.uk.

The South East England Development Agency SEEDA is the Government funded agency responsible for the sustainable economic development and regeneration of the South East of England - the driving force of the UK's economy. Our aim is to create a prosperous, dynamic and inspirational region by helping businesses compete more effectively, training a highly skilled workforce, supporting and enabling our communities while safeguarding our natural resources and cherishing our rich cultural heritage.

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