Spring Budget 2020

With the General Election out of the way, and the Government’s 80-seat majority giving political stability, attention now turns to the Budget on 11 March. Matthew Woodhead and Paul Lulham, Directors of DHA, consider who the winners and losers will be.

Given the election result and the damage done to what was termed Labour’s ‘Red Wall’, there can be few people not expecting the newly secured northern constituencies to be the biggest recipients from the Chancellor.

Indeed, in his first official speech following the Tories’ resounding victory, the Prime Minister acknowledged that many of these communities had lent him their votes, and the Budget will be the first opportunity to repay them.

Against this backdrop, the task facing us here in the South East is to persuade No.11 Downing Street that we are a safe pair of hands when it comes to new investment and that we will continue to deliver.

There’s already post-election evidence of growing business confidence and after three years of uncertainty and, at best, low-level growth, we need to do everything we can to nurture and sustain this positivity.

Much is being made of levelling-up the UK economy. However, with London and the South East the only two net contributors to the Treasury, there’s the danger that if the issues facing these areas are ignored – and they do have nationally significant issues to tackle – then the result might in fact be the levelling-down of the country.

The inescapable truth is that there remains huge demand for housing in Kent, Sussex and Surrey, alongside investment in the area’s infrastructure to sustain its economic strength. Get it wrong by failing to invest in the nation’s powerhouse and front door to mainland Europe – which will still be our biggest trading partner after Brexit – and the whole country will suffer.

Across our patch, there’s a network of partnerships bringing together the public and private sectors. They demonstrate real joined-up thinking when it comes to delivering economic growth.

In Kent, for example, there’s the Kent and Medway Economic Partnership, which feeds directly into the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, and onwards to Whitehall and Westminster. The Kent Developers Group is pushing the case for sustainable commercial and residential development; the Kent Planning Officers Group has developed a planning protocol, the fundamentals of which have been adopted by their neighbours in Essex and East Sussex; and Locate in Kent is championing the county as a location for inward investment.

With the Treasury already hard at work, it’s vital that these key regional stakeholders present a unified case to those who can influence the contents of Sajid Javid’s Budget on 11th March. Put simply, a strong South East is fundamental to a strong UK.

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