With just 48 hours until the budget box makes its annual appearance outside Downing Street, this is the last opportunity for the current Government to give a boost to British business ahead of the most uncertain General Election for decades. If the Chancellor prioritises action in infrastructure, employment and exports the UK has a real chance to secure our economic recovery, creating jobs and growth across the whole country.
On infrastructure, transport is the great enabler, connecting people and business across the UK and globally. Heathrow backs the new high speed rail plans, both HS2 and 3, as well as investment in surface access improvements to airports, such as Southern Rail Access to Heathrow. Combined with Crossrail and Western Rail Access, this will mean we can connect all UK nations and regions to our biggest port. North, south, east and west, 12 million people will soon be within an hour of Britain’s hub airport and allow Heathrow to meet our commitment to increasing the number of passengers accessing the airport by public transport to over 50%.
On employment, the Government should continue to back apprenticeships and vocational training, supporting the next generation to achieve their potential within a drastically changing workforce. These are not just routes into work but into high quality careers – Heathrow’s chairman was an apprentice, as was our industry’s Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin. As a large business we play our part by supporting quality apprenticeships in engineering and retail but more should be done to help smaller firms train up and employ young people.
On exports, last month, Heathrow sponsored our first trade mission to the third largest Latin American economy – Colombia – with the London Chamber of Commerce. We were very impressed with the support offered by UKTI and the British Embassy to ambitious companies wanting to sell in Latin America. The Government should continue to invest in this service and expand its reach so that we have a deep and meaningful presence in countries and cities that will be huge markets in 2025 – even if we might not be so familiar with them today.
To sell in Colombia you have to get to Colombia. You have to make personal contacts to sign contracts – and that’s where Heathrow comes in. Only Heathrow directly connects the whole of Britain to fast-growing and long-haul emerging markets, transporting people and goods to countries where consumer demand is outstripping Europe. While all the other London airports still have capacity, Heathrow is full and has been for a decade. Tomorrow’s businesses don’t just need to get to Lisbon they need to get to Lima, and for that we need to get on with it and expand Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport.