‘Buy Local’ should be on the agenda as civil servants head north to Darlington

18th March 2021

Darlington is known for being the birthplace of the railways, and of course, the home for more than 150 years of Cleveland Bridge UK. And following the Chancellor’s announcement in his recent Budget, it will also be the location of a government department.

The creation of a northern campus for the Treasury is one of the most significant indications that the government is serious about its plan to level up the economy.

It will, no doubt, provide an important stimulus for the town bringing around 700 civil service jobs to the town, but should provide the opportunity to encourage other benefits to the area.

Chief among these is a greater understanding among Treasury officials of the expertise and experience that exists in the North of England to support the economic recovery of the nation.

In the Budget, the Chancellor highlighted that it would be an investment-led recovery, supported by programmes of capital investments and encouragement for companies to develop their capabilities and efficiencies by taking advantage of the supertax deduction for the acquisition of capital equipment.

The Prime Minister has also regularly spoken about building back stronger in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. A policy I support wholeheartedly, and companies in the North, particularly those involved in developing infrastructure that will enhance the productivity of the economy, are well placed to contribute.

A key example of this is HS2, a critical government-led investment project and a creator of immediate and long-term opportunities for the UK construction and manufacturing industries.

We have an enviable track record for world class innovation, project delivery and expertise, which is globally recognised.  HS2 presents the opportunity for British companies to further demonstrate these capabilities on one of the largest and most significant domestic infrastructure projects for a generation.

We are proud, as one of a group of companies from across the regions, to have already been part of the first stages of the delivery of HS2.  With 98% of the 2,000 contracts awarded so far for HS2 going to UK registered businesses.

This is an exemplar that should not only be continued on this project and should be replicated across all UK infrastructure schemes.  I would hope that it is a priority for the National Infrastructure Bank, also announced in the Budget, when it is looking at potential project to fund.

A ‘buy local’ strategy adds further momentum to this, as it not only supports individual communities but has the positive multiplier effect required to create and sustain jobs, business, and economic growth. Take HS2 for example, it has created a number of opportunities for regional supply chains and illustrates what can be achieved when infrastructure projects are awarded to British contractors.

However, more needs to be done to ensure we continue to reap the benefits, and I hope that having more government employees in the North, will play its part.

After all, its soon-to-be relocated team of civil servants working at the new Treasury campus will be contributing to the economies of Darlington and the wider North East.

They will also be able to see first-hand what companies in the North are capable of and share this knowledge to enable us to Build a Better Britain by creating even more opportunities for our businesses.

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