Keeping our capital working for the UK

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Crossrail investment will protect and promote UK business success

“Good for investment, good for jobs, good for Britain” was the business verdict on the expected inclusion of Crossrail in the Chancellor’s three year spending plans to be announced in Parliament today.

Business group London First lauded the Chancellor’s decision to invest in this critical infrastructure, helping to keep the UK capital attractive to overseas investors.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said:

“Crossrail delivers not just for London, but for the whole of the UK.  Crossrail is a must if London is to sustain and build on its position as the leading global financial centre. But let us be clear:  London is not competing for investment with Nottingham or Manchester, but with New York and Mumbai.  London’s business leaders have recognised this and dug deep into corporate pockets to help fund the project, despite the fact that London contributes up to £20bn a year to public spending in the rest of the UK.

“The Government is to be praised for its long-term strategy to support UK success and UK jobs. Getting the go-ahead for Crossrail could mean the difference between jobs coming to the UK or going abroad.  Can we afford to contemplate losing jobs to Paris or Frankfurt because it is not possible to get more people into work in the capital’s financial hub? Of course we can’t. The Tube already carries more people every day than the whole of the national rail network. Last year nearly a million people traveled into central London by public transport in the morning peak. By the time Crossrail is open, overcrowding on Tube and rail lines into the City will have doubled.

“With a wince-inducing contribution from business, we will follow the construction project with more than half an eye. If Crossrail is delivered by a standalone body, with clear objectives and free from political interference or changes in specification, it can be delivered on budget and on time.”

Vital to London and the UK’s ongoing competitiveness, Crossrail will join Heathrow to the growing Thames Gateway via the business districts of the West End, City and Docklands.  London First, which represents over 300 of the capital’s leading companies, has been urging Government to agree a funding package for the east-west London rail link for over a decade.

The Government has announced that, with the help of London’s business community, Crossrail’s funding gap has been bridged and the £16bn project, to be met by Government, business and fare box contributions, can now move into construction phase following Royal Assent of the Crossrail Bill, expected in summer 2008.  Crossrail is estimated to add between £37bn and £68bn to UK GDP over 60 years.  Crossrail will also increase the tax return to the Exchequer by £14.8bn to £27.2bn.  The railway is expected to be ready in 2017.

Notes to Editors

London First is a business membership organisation whose mission is to make London the best city in the world in which to do business. London First undertakes this by mobilising the experience, expertise and enthusiasm of the private sector to develop practical solutions to the challenges facing London. London First also seeks to persuade central and London government to make the investments that London needs in its infrastructure

London First delivers its activities with the support of 300 of the capital’s major businesses in key sectors such as finance, professional services, property, ICT, creative industries, hospitality and retail. Membership also includes all of London’s higher education institutions as well as further education colleges and NHS hospital trusts. London First members represent 26% of London’s GDP

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