What do businesses think about HS2? » SMEInsider

What do businesses think about HS2?

A majority of South West business owners believe that the new high speed train between London and the midlands is a good thing and will benefit the whole country, according to new research from Business Growth, provider of long-term capital to small and mid-sized businesses.

 

No consensus on its execution 

However, not everyone is in agreement that the current plans are the best ones. A third of respondents said that it would have been better to first connect Northern cities to Birmingham and then move down South to London, whilst 41 per cent believe that it should have been started in the South.

Exactly half of the business leaders polled in the South West and Wales believe that HS2 will lead to improved roads, rail (local and national) and airport expansion, which will in turn benefit the businesses they work with.

 

From high speed rail to high speed internet

However, it wasn’t the only high speed issue on British businesses’ minds, a further 50 per cent also said they would prioritise investment in high speed broadband, whilst a strong majority of 77 per cent believed that a third runway in Heathrow would be good for British business. On the other hand, 64 per cent pointed out that increasing capacity, routes and flights at regional airports was just as, if not more, important.

 

Re-nationalising the railways

In terms of re-nationalising the railways, it seems the majority of businesses are not with Jeremy Corbyn on this one as 73 per cent are against the idea.

 

Still optimistic on growth, but more cautious

In terms of general outlook, businesses are optimistic with 64 per cent believing conditions for growth have improved over the last quarter, whilst seven out of ten expect them to continue to grow over the next quarter.

However, whilst clearly still optimistic on the whole, it appears that businesses have become more cautions because when the same question was asked back in June, the percentages were 87 and 70 respectively.

 

Skills gap still an issue

Four out of ten respondents agreed that recruitment and retention of the right talent was the biggest factor holding back business growth. This was followed by the perceived instability of foreign markets (18 per cent) and global economy (14 per cent).

“Small and medium sized businesses are the lifeblood of the economy, bringing much needed jobs and prosperity, but they depend on infrastructure to grow.

“Working with businesses across the South West of England and in Wales, we see first-hand the importance of investing in world class infrastructure, combining big ticket projects such as HS2 and increasing airport capacity but also ongoing improvements to roads and online connectivity,” said Paul Oldham, BGF’s regional director for South West and South Wales.