By Claire West
“Today’s review is something of an anti-climax for Britain’s businesses and local economies. The cuts we know about are as severe as expected, but there is still a huge amount of detail lacking as to exactly where and how they will fall in the towns and offices around the UK.
What we do know for sure is that the loss of nearly half a million public sector jobs, a move to ‘modest’ capital investment in social housing funding and the curtailing of welfare benefits across the board will put a major stranglehold on our regional economies. For cities like Peterborough that have significant economic and sustainable development ambitions, attracting inward investment and maintaining growth will now be an uphill struggle. Unlike our larger counterparts — Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and indeed London — we have a much less resilient and established private sector base to counteract the loss of public sector spend and face a potential chasm in infrastructure funding.
Clearly, there will be economic fall-out at a local level and belts will have to tighten, but whilst the austerity measures may stem our growth ambitions they do not quell them entirely — we just need to be realistic. The good news for Peterborough is that we still boast a low cost of living combined with a high quality of life, housing will remain relatively affordable compared to the wider region and the growth of emerging sectors in the region should give us immunity against the worst of the cuts. The environment sector in particular — which is so prominent in Peterborough’s business landscape — seems to be one of the few winners in this review with the creation of a Green Investment Bank and further funding for wind power investment.
Staying committed to sustainable and economic development in the coming years and months will be tough, but we like other vital, local economies across Britain, must be sure to grow, not slow in the austerity aftermath or risk being overwhelmed by it.”