On the first day of Seafarers Awareness Week, Maritime UK – the umbrella body for Britain’s £46bn maritime sector – is calling for a Minister for the ‘Coastal Powerhouse’.
The Minister would be responsible for improving the lives of the 3m people living on Britain’s coastlines, who may be worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
A ministerial role would provide much-needed focus on revitalising coastal economies, boosting global trading capacity and the maritime industries of the future as the UK rebuilds its economy. The ministerial appointment would oversee expanded funding for projects that support economic development.
While existing coastal regeneration funds have tended to be allocated towards specific projects like high street support, investment is desperately needed to drive industrial growth around the coast.
The continued success of the maritime sector is vital for coastal communities and the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda. It is a key source of well-paid and highly skilled roles, which pay an average of £38,000 per year, £9,000 more than the national average.
Before coronavirus, economic forecasters CEBR predicted that maritime jobs were set to increase by 15% until 2023, creating 30,000 new positions. There is cautious optimism that this growth is still achievable in the medium term, driven by a commitment to net-zero by 2050, Government-led investment in infrastructure and support for business investment.
The net-zero target translates into a need to invest in green technology. The green maritime sector is predicted to be worth £12bn by 2050, resulting in a £550m boost to the UK economy.
Supported by accelerated Government spending on infrastructure and boosts for business investment, the maritime sector has a strong and sustainable future ahead of itself: worldwide, it is predicted to be a £2.4trn industry by 2030. Investment generates jobs. A recent £66m investment in Artemis Technologies, who produce zero-emission electric ferries, is set to create 1,000 positions in Belfast alone. Other investments have produced similar results.
With almost 50% of maritime jobs being outside London and the South East, the sector is uniquely placed to deliver on the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda. A minister would help focus and accelerate these efforts.
Chair of Maritime UK, Harry Theochari said:
“Today we are calling on Government to create a Minister for the Coastal Powerhouse, a move that would help turbo-charge the development of our coastal communities.
“With the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine, we have seen what is possible when a minister is held accountable for the economic development of a certain region. Coastal communities have been some of the hardest hit in this crisis, and we need accountability to ensure the ‘left behind’ are not left behind once more.
“There is a fantastic opportunity here. Coastal communities can be at the heart of massive new growth opportunities: increased global trade through our ports, new green maritime technologies, moving freight off the road and rail network to coastal and inland shipping, advanced manufacturing, modern shipbuilding and by encouraging more people to get on the water.
“As an island nation, and with a global ocean economy predicted to be worth £2.4trn by 2030, where better to look for exciting new growth opportunities than in our coastal communities.
“The future is bright for maritime. And a Minister for the Coastal Powerhouse would be a tremendous boost to us all”.