At the onset of the recession, partners across the South West agreed that, as well as mitigating the worst impacts of the crisis, we needed to focus on creating the conditions for recovery and enabling local businesses to grow out of recession. We agreed that post-recession growth would look different to that seen beforehand – export-oriented, green and re-balanced away from the public and financial services. Unfortunately, the recovery has been delayed beyond most of our expectations and decisive action
is still needed to help the UK emerge from recession.
The Government’s investment in next-generation, superfast broadband should be seen in this context - as an investment in a vital part of our national economic infrastructure, bringing us up to the standards of the best internationally.
In 2009, NESTA estimated that providing universal superfast broadband could directly create 600,000 new jobs, with £18 billion added to UK GDP and larger indirect effects1. Earlier research, conducted in 20032, estimated that the growth in broadband would result in UK GDP being £21.9bn per annum higher in 2015 than it would otherwise have been; in annual UK fixed investment being around £8bn per annum higher than would otherwise have been the case, and annual government borrowing being around £13bn per annum lower.
These estimates are rough. No one knows for certain how people will use superfast broadband, what business innovations it will give rise to or the scale of the productivity improvements that will result. We have many clues, which we explore in this report. However, the main thing we do know is that a dramatic improvement in connectivity will open an array of new possibilities for businesses and that those that use it effectively will have a considerable advantage over those that remain without.
It is for this reason that four Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in South West England3 are seeking Growth and Innovation Funding: to drive economic growth by delivering the skills needed by businesses to maximise the advantages that superfast broadband can bring4.
So what are these potential advantages? And what skills will be required to grasp them?
1 Getting up to speed: making superfast broadband a reality, NESTA Policy Briefing,
2 The Economic Impact of a Competitive Market for Broadband, Centre for Economics and Business Research ltd, November 2003.
3 Cornwall & IoS, Heart of the South West, West of England and Gloucestershire & Herefordshire.
4 Draft GIF Application
Produced by :Ben Neild
Number of pages:
St Luke's Campus, University of Exeter