Spending review: ‘Protect our infrastructure’

by Peter Wozniak

Transport and technology should be prioritised to be spared the government spending squeeze the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has argued.

The business organisation insisted that the government must focus all its decisions feeding into the comprehensive spending review in October on safeguarding the UK’s return to economic growth, rather than simply sparing popular services from cuts.

John Cridland, the CBI’s deputy director general, said: “Cutting spending means tough choices. We think that the need for economic growth, not the noise of the loudest voice, should determine where cuts are made.

“The government must improve the efficiency of public services and focus the limited public money available on areas that do most to galvanise growth.”

In particular, the CBI has argued against cutting government infrastructure projects, such as investment in high-speed rail, and research and development, saying this would risk the economic recovery.

The call comes weeks before the spending review is announced, and joins a chorus of organisations nervously awaiting the full scale and detail of the cuts package.

The current climate is one of uncertainty as the last stage of negotiations between government departments and the Treasury is underway.

Though all budgets are under immense strain to find savings of up to 40%, it remains unclear as to where exactly the axe will fall, which has caused lobby groups like the CBI to make last-minute pleas to save particular projects and areas of public spending.

The government is preparing for a pitched battle with unions, who have declared a campaign of co-ordinated industrial action in opposition to the austerity drive.

The details of the review are to be published on October 20th.