The best way to sustainably drive economic growth is to raise productivity, and that is a priority for this Government. We are increasing public investment in economic infrastructure to its highest sustained level in my lifetime. In the autumn Budget, we set out further investments to support business, technical skills and new technologies.
Last month, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury saw for herself the investment that York-based Pavers Shoes is making to change its productivity, yet local businesses are concerned about the effect of traffic congestion on local productivity. With that in mind, will my hon. Friend the Exchequer Secretary assure me that the Treasury is fully behind the Department for Transport’s proposals to fund the dualling of the York northern ring road?
My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary says that she saw some very good leopard-print shoes at Pavers Shoes—and she knows a potential customer for them. Pavers is a highly successful business; I have seen for myself in India the success that it is having in selling shoes. We are committed to increasing transport investment in the north of England; the Secretary of State for Transport recently announced the dualling of the A1237 York outer ring road as a scheme in development for the major road network funding.
Does the Minister agree that one of the ways to increase productivity is by maintaining grants at European levels of investment in research and development? We have a lot of good universities in this country.
This Government are absolutely committed to maintaining research and development; that is why we will be investing in it at record levels. We are also supporting the private sector, for example by making research and development tax credits more generous so that businesses across the country can collaborate with universities to drive the economy forward.
Absolutely. We are very excited about the £100 million Ayrshire growth deal and will continue to support that part of Scotland.