Kate Griffiths – 2022 Speech on Achieving Economic Growth

The speech made by Kate Griffiths, the Conservative MP for Burton, in the House of Commons on 18 May 2022.

I refer Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

It is a pleasure to speak in this debate on the Gracious Speech in the year of Her Majesty’s platinum jubilee. I welcome the focus on strengthening the economy and achieving economic growth that this Queen’s Speech provides after the huge impact of the covid pandemic on all sectors of the economy.

Levelling up local infrastructure is key to securing economic growth, and I welcome the steps the Government are taking to invest in our nation’s infrastructure and transport links. Burton and Uttoxeter sit within the manufacturing heart of the country, and the A50-A500 corridor is home to both national and global brands, including JCB, Toyota, Nestlé, Rolls-Royce and many more. They rely on that vital link for connecting to international markets and trade around the globe. To support economic growth, new jobs and better connectivity for business and for my constituents, vital improvements are needed to this corridor.

Recently, Midlands Connect published its “The Road to Success” report, outlining suggested developments to the corridor that would create over 12,000 jobs and generate £12 billion for the economy. With the improvements, commuters driving on the central section of this corridor, where the junction at Uttoxeter has been identified as a priority element of the strategy, would be likely to get back 3.5 working days a year by 2050. As the project champion for the improvements to the A50-A500 north midlands manufacturing corridor, I look forward to continuing to champion the project with Ministers, and making the case for the economic growth that these improvements will bring to my constituency and the wider economy.

As well as improving infrastructure, it is vital that we continue to level up our towns, so I welcome the Government’s continued commitment to this important strategy. I was delighted that Burton was awarded £23.8 million from the towns fund to deliver transformative regeneration for the town. This includes reconnecting the town centre to the River Trent, making it an attractive location to visit, live and do business. I am also pleased that we have the chance to submit a bid for the second round of the levelling-up fund, complementing the town deal investment and completing the transformation of the High Street for generations to come. I look forward to the outcome of the local consultation and discussions about how we can continue to level up Burton and Uttoxeter, and I hope that as a priority 1 area the town’s bid will be received favourably as it seeks to deliver on that vision of levelling up.

Of course, one of the key industries in Burton and Uttoxeter is the brewing sector, and I was pleased to welcome Staffordshire-based businesses to Parliament recently, ahead of Staffordshire Day, to promote fantastic local businesses and producers. They included Molson Coors, which recently invested £25 million in its Burton site, which is a sign of its commitment to continued innovation in the great brewing town of Burton. Breweries and the wider hospitality sector have been hit very hard by the impact of the pandemic and the current rise in the cost of living. During the pandemic, the Chancellor reduced VAT on hospitality goods and services, which was of huge benefit to businesses in my constituency. However, disruption to these businesses is still being felt, and I would take this opportunity to urge the Government to reconsider the proposal of the Long Live the Local campaign for a permanent hospitality VAT rate of 12.5%. That could generate an additional turnover of £7.7 billion and an additional 286,850 jobs over 10 years.

I welcome this Queen’s Speech and the Government’s ongoing commitment to levelling up and supporting economic growth, and I look forward to continuing to support opportunities for investment across Burton and Uttoxeter, such as the vital improvements to the A50-A500 corridor, that my constituents elected me to deliver.