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There is still a long way to go to rebuild the UK economy after the pandemic and to level up the regions after decades of under investment which has seen some parts of the country left behind. The second edition of our quarterly Rebuilding Britain Index, which we launched at the start of this year to track social and economic progress, has remained flat.
Despite GDP growth and major investment announcements, such as our plans for a £1.5bn innovation district in Manchester and our major urban regeneration scheme at Bristol Temple Island, which will create 12,000 jobs, the index remained at the medium-low level of 64/100. And for the second consecutive quarter the key areas of Housing and Jobs & Economic Prosperity were the worst performing measures.
To ensure the accuracy of the index we survey 20,000 people and track social and economic progress across 52 measures, including Health and Social Care, Education, Housing, Jobs & Economic Prosperity, Environment, Energy, Transport and Digital. One of the findings from the previous survey was that jobs and homes were the things that were most likely to boost people’s quality of life.
As we escape the pandemic it is up to us step up and invest in the growth opportunities that exist in the areas that need it the most. As the economy continues to unlock, so will our ability to start to act on these opportunities
With this in mind it is worrying that the housing index score has fallen marginally, with London, the South East and South West lagging behind the rest of the country. This adds urgency to our housebuilding programme which now includes a plan to build 3,000 affordable homes a year by 2023. Earlier this year we announced an acceleration of this programme and we currently have a development pipeline of 5,500 homes across the country as we seek to play our part in levelling up the regions.
Other areas of concern include Wales and the North East of England, which remain behind on Jobs and Economic Prosperity. One bright spot is the Digital measure, which has increased slightly with improving access to reliable mobile networks and high-speed internet.
The index has highlighted the urgent need to get infrastructure improvements underway, with only a quarter of people feeling that there is a discernible impact from investments in their local area. Our data suggests that communities remain economically cautious as we exit the pandemic and it will take time for investments and major new schemes to make their presence felt.
Nigel Wilson, CEO at Legal & General says: “Building Back Better is not going to happen overnight. And with ongoing restrictions on movement and social distancing it is perhaps no surprise to see the index has remained flat in Q2 2021.
“However, it is clear that the UK has a wide range of real and urgent investment needs. As we escape the pandemic it is up to us step up and invest in the growth opportunities that exist in the areas that need it the most. As the economy continues to unlock, so will our ability to start to act on these opportunities.”
As the leading institutional investor in UK infrastructure, Legal & General has a role in supporting the UK’s efforts to build back better by channelling investments in the right direction. This can only be done by giving local communities a say in which infrastructure they need to better foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth and restore social mobility. By surveying 20,000 adults around the UK, the RBI does just that.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Legal & General has stepped up its commitment to supporting the UK’s economic and social resurgence by committing significant capital towards the levelling up agenda. This year alone, we have deployed over £2bn into transformational schemes, such as its new innovation district; ID Manchester, and into urban regeneration projects such as Bristol Temple Island.
In partnership with forward thinking universities and local authorities, Legal & General has now invested over £30bn into major urban regeneration schemes in areas such as Manchester, Oxford, Cardiff and Newcastle, using the UK’s pension and savings to drive the economic recovery in these cities.
We continue to focus on reviving town centres and delivering quality affordable housing, transport and digital infrastructure, while mitigating climate change.
There is still a long way to go but by continuing to focus our efforts on building a new inclusive capitalism that provides benefits for everyone, we can build a better and fairer society.