Carolyn Quinn, Business Agent – Corporate Childcare at Christie & Co, discusses the impact of the impending Severn Crossing toll removal on local businesses.
Having effective and strong infrastructure is key to the success of an economy in any region and since opening in 1996, the Severn Bridge has been a critical part of infrastructure in South Wales, having a profound impact on the economy at both a local and national level.
Crossing tolls were implemented on the Severn Bridge until the debt from the building costs were cleared and costs for its upkeep offset, which have now been fulfilled and the tolls are now set to be removed on 17th December 2018.
By providing a quicker and more direct crossing from South Wales to Bristol, and further afield along the M4, it further facilitates the movement of goods and services across the border. In particular, it has allowed people to travel to and from a developed urban area with a high concentration of employment opportunities, to outlying areas with a greater supply of cost-effective housing provision. The knock-on effect is a potential economic and property boom in South Wales, with the Welsh Office suggesting it could boost the local economy by around £100m a year.
We have seen many people already moving into the Monmouthshire and Newport areas in anticipation of the toll removal, with some reports suggesting 80% of house buyers in these areas are from the Bristol area, due to the significantly cheaper house prices and overall cost of living. With this small-scale migration in mind the area has seen a significant number of housing developments begin as demand rises.
With this increase in housing comes the need to further develop the local amenities currently available within the area, including the childcare provision. A growing number of both parents, or single parent households, returning to work after having children exacerbates the need for effective childcare provision making nursery settings vital infrastructure in today’s economy.
Outside of the housing market, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the removal of the toll on the Severn Crossing will stimulate economic activity further within both Bristol and South Wales, especially given that estimates suggest that the removal of the toll will save some motorists as much as £1,400 per annum.
Businesses in South Wales will have a range of opportunities opened up to them with a broader range of clients and customers to reach. Those looking to invest in a new venture or expand in the South West, particularly in needs-based industries such as childcare which is always needed along with a population boost, should consider South Wales as a new and exciting option.