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£9.7bn foreign investment to boost UK economy

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 19 Oct 2021

ICAEW has welcomed the nearly £10bn foreign investment secured at the UK Global Investment Summit and called for an injection of best-in-class thinking about management and innovation.

Recovery, levelling up and the drive to net zero will all receive a boost from the fresh influx of foreign investment into the UK announced at the Global Investment Summit. At least 30,000 new jobs will be created around the UK thanks to £9.7bn new foreign investment derived from 18 new trade and investment deals announced.

Iain Wright, ICAEW’s Managing Director Reputation and Influence, says: “Significant foreign direct investment is a massive boost for the UK economy, acting not only as a source of capital to help finance new capabilities and businesses in this country, but also providing an injection of best-in-class thinking about management and innovation, providing a further spur to our country’s competitive advantage.”

Notable sectors receiving the £9.7bn foreign investment include those that will assist the UK with its journey to net zero, for example: wind and hydrogen energy, sustainable homes and carbon capture and storage. 

One of the investments confirmed is Iberdrola’s intent to invest £6bn in the East Anglia Hub through Scottish Power, subject to securing planning consent and a Contract for Difference. This will be Iberdrola’s biggest offshore wind development anywhere in the world and would supply enough green energy to power 2.7 million British homes, while creating 7,000 jobs.

Wright says: “Such FDI will help achieve two inter-linked policies designed to transition the UK to a new phase in its economic development. First, investment in net zero will allow the UK to be a leading player in the development of new business models, companies, products and services and jobs for the journey to net zero. Secondly, such investment is taking place across the UK, helping to achieve the levelling up agenda.”

On the financial services front, peer-to-peer lending firm Zopa has raised £220m, led by Softbank Vision Fund 2, to grow its responsible and sustainable banking and lending services in the UK.

Further on the levelling up front, the UK government will also launch a new Investment Atlas which will highlight investment opportunities around the UK to foreign companies. This Department for International Trade initiative will bring into focus 53 UK-wide investment opportunities, all of which have a strong sustainability element. Projects include offshore wind substructures in Scotland and manufacturing ports in Teesside and Humber. The aim is to create jobs, boost the economy and even out prosperity.

Commenting on achieving such high levels of investment in the UK generally, Wright says: “This leads to strong clusters of economic expertise, such as Teesside for Carbon Capture and Storage and the hydrogen economy and Humberside for port and offshore wind capabilities. This investment builds on traditional strengths in these areas and transforms local economies into modern clusters of innovative and specialist advantage for the 21st century, creating wealth, employment and resilience.”

The £9.7bn announced is in addition to the £5.8bn already committed for sustainable projects since the Prime Minister launched his Ten Point Plan in November 2020.

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