Eastern Powerhouse follow up letter to Rishi Sunak MP
The Eastern Powerhouse has followed up on its initial outreach to the two remaining candidates in the Conservative Party leadership race. The aim being to reinforce the value of the East to the future PM and the wider country.
TO: The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Dear Mr Sunak
We are a group of the leading businesses in the East of England who have formed the Eastern Powerhouse to push for greater investment and growth in our region. Our Chairman James Palmer has already written to you during the course of the Leadership Contest, but as you head to Norwich for the penultimate hustings event on Thursday, we also wanted you to hear from businesses in the region direct.
We want to do two things: Firstly, to highlight the major, immediate impediments to growth in the East; and secondly, to enumerate the economic dividends that can accrue to the whole of the country if a government led by you were to take steps to tap the significant potential of the East.
The East can deliver the highest rises in growth and productivity levels for the least amount of investment, relative to other regions. The economic dividends for UK plc would be considerable. We estimate that, if the East of England were able to level up to the South-east (excluding London), we could deliver an extra £31.2bn a year in GDP for the national economy. That would mean £11.5bn of additional tax-take for the Exchequer; and an annual increase in disposable income of £3,100 for every resident in the East of England.
The bottom line is the East is currently losing out to other parts of the UK. It has received 40% less Levelling-Up funding than other regions, and a much lower share of public investment. In 2020/21, transport spending in the East of England was just £678 per head compared with £1,476 per head in London, and below the UK average of £737. The East also has the lowest health spend per capita (£2,974 compared with £3,271 nationally) and a lower-than-average education spend (£1,357 compared with £1,428).
With more investment, our region can supercharge the UK economy and improve the life chances of all UK citizens, not just Easterners. However, several policy blind spots are preventing the East from fulfilling this role, and we would ask you to address these as a priority if you were to win the Leadership and become Prime Minister:
1. The vital need for rail network upgrades. The Government’s repeated failure to commit to
this is impeding the movement of both goods and people within the region. Rail bottlenecks
at Ely North junction in particular have dogged the region for years. The East is the UK`s
fourth largest economy, yet it has an extremely poor rail service.
2. The need for a coherent energy plan. The East is the only region to have oil, gas, solar, wind and nuclear, as well as a soon-to-be-announced opportunity for tidal power. With a
coordinated plan behind it, the region could provide energy to power both London and the
3. Similarly, a plan to create a ‘life sciences’ strategy for the East. The region has Europe's most successful science and tech clusters. What’s needed is a plan to link these together to create a ‘Silicon East’. With the right strategic investment, the region could lead the world in agri- tech, green energy, and life sciences.
Our ask to you is to commit to working with us to deliver an independent economic review and a spatial strategy so that we can navigate these bottlenecks and realise the full potential of the region. We want the Eastern Powerhouse to be a partner to Government in shaping policy on the major problems currently stifling growth. Now is a critical time to rectify old problems that are preventing regional development, in particular sub-standard infrastructure. We would welcome a commitment from you to work with us; and we would greatly look forward to working with you in Government to develop and implement solutions in the East, for the benefit of the region and the wider UK.
The Founding Members of the Eastern Powerhouse
Dr Andy Wood – Chief Executive Officer, Adnams
Konrad Aspinall – Chief Executive Officer, AGR Group
Roz Bird – Chief Executive Officer, Anglia Innovation Partnership
Martyn Fordham – Managing Director, Asynt
William Rooke – Partner and Head of Eastern Commercial, Carter Jonas
Biplab Rakshi – Chair, Institute of Directors (East of England)
Candy Richards – Development Manager, Federation of Small Businesses
Nic Rumsey – Managing Director, Jaynic Group
Matt Windle – Managing Director, Lotus Cars
Sean Milbank – Chair, Milbank Group
Prashant Shah – Co-Chief Executive Officer and co-founder, o2h
Andy Hill – Chief Executive Officer, The Hill Group
Drew Ritchie – Chief Executive Officer, Upp
Nikos Savvas – Principal, West Suffolk College
You can download the full version of the letter below: