RESPONSE TO THE CHANCELLOR’S SPRING STATEMENT
Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border, has welcomed the news that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will invest a record £260 million in the Borderlands Growth Deal (BGD).
Philip Hammond announced a UK government commitment of £260 million to the BGD in his Spring Statement in the House of Commons this afternoon. Together with funding from the Scottish government, this brings the total figure to £345million and is the largest investment yet seen in the project.
Mr Stewart began pushing for a BGD before the Scottish Referendum while he was a Minister at DEFRA, as a way of acknowledging how much the communities across the English-Scottish border have in common. This place-based investment strategy is designed to bolster economic growth in the rural communities of northern England and Southern Scotland. It previously received support from the Chancellor in his 2017 Budget and today's announcement indicates the Government’s interest in and commitment to the region.
As well as welcoming the news, Mr Stewart has expressed the hope that, when details are disclosed, both tourism and broadband will receive significant investment. He has long championed rural digital connectivity and argued in meetings with ministers that the digital proposals contained within the BGD are absolutely vital to the success of the Deal as a whole. Connecting the most remote rural communities to reliable, fast broadband or 4G, though it has often proved difficult, makes an immense difference to people’s lives.
Commenting on this, Mr Stewart said: “The Spring Statement brings further good news on the strength of our economy. Nine years of consecutive growth, falling borrowing and debt, 3.5 million new jobs, the fastest rate of wage growth in over a decade and positive predictions from the Office of Budgetary Responsibility all give grounds for confidence.
“I am particularly pleased that the Chancellor has pledged such significant investment in the Borderlands Growth Deal. This is an incredibly special part of the United Kingdom and now that the funding for the Borderlands Growth Deal has been secured, we can really start to tap into its potential. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how investment in the area’s tourism and broadband will make a real difference to people’s lives.
“I will continue to work closely with ministers, MPs and councillors on both sides of the Border as we make the Deal a reality.”