Did you know the East of England has a population of around 6.1 million people? The region will likely be the second fastest growing in England and Wales with the population estimated to rise 8.9% by 2024.
But despite these stark facts, which show how important housing and infrastructure is to the county, the region is still not a priority for central Government.
These were some of the points I made when giving evidence to the region’s All Party Parliamentary Group at the House of Commons earlier this week.
In my role as Chairman of the East of England Infrastructure and Growth Group, which represents 52 local authorities in the region, I was invited to tell MPs how we can support the region’s economy and promote its potential as a place to work, study, live and invest.
The group, which brings MPs and peers together with elected local leaders, as well as the private and third sectors, is holding three evidence sessions before it prepares a submission to the Treasury ahead of the November budget.
The first session, at the end of February, focussed on Transport and Growth, and the one I attended concentrated on Infrastructure, Investment and Housing.
There will be a final session on the Local Industrial Strategy on June 12, before the group presents its finding to the Treasury, which I hope can secure more funding to help Essex, and the wider region, realise its economic ambitions.
At the session, I was able to discuss our links with London and how we can maximise funding and infrastructure opportunities, especially when the region was one of just three nationwide to contribute more tax than it received in public money in 2016. Public expenditure was £8,155 per capita in 2017, less than the UK average of £9,159.
That’s proof enough that Essex and East Anglia needs a bigger slice of central Government funding. We will continue to lobby Government for a fair deal and more infrastructure investment to meet the demands of the future.