Delivery focus urged for infrastructure

Government and industry must maintain a relentless focus on the delivery of planned infrastructure investment to drive growth and prosperity across the country according to a new report.

Results of an infrastructure survey, released on Friday by the Confederation of British Industry and Aecom, indicate that delivery of key projects already in the pipeline is the top priority among businesses polled.

Firms said they had been encouraged by the Government’s recent track record on infrastructure, with 42% viewing policies since the start of the 2015 Parliament as positive.

However the feedback also showed a significant drop in confidence among those polled that the UK’s infrastructure will improve over the next five years. Just 27% said they believed this would be the case, marking a 16% fall compared to last year’s survey.

“Firms give the Government a good report card on infrastructure and are pleased with its commitment in recent years to put infrastructure at the heart of its long term economic agenda,” said the CBI’s director general Carolyn Fairburn.

“But announcements and commitments are one thing. Seeing asphalt, tracks and super fast internet cables being laid is another.”

The CBI and Aecom have called for Government to reaffirm spending plans and press ahead with implementing policy decisions to ensure projects are delivered in full over the course of this Parliament.

“If we don’t get spades in the ground on existing plans, it’s clear we could put a major dent in the competitiveness of British business – and the UK itself. This is something we cannot afford to do, especially during this period of uncertainty as the UK leaves the EU,” Carolyn Fairburn added.

Focusing on the highways sector, a majority (73%) of firms polled see tackling congestion on the road network as either critical or important to the future operation of their business. But 69% are not optimistic that infrastructure in roads will not improve in the coming five years.

Aecom chief executive for civil infrastructure Richard Robinson commented: “High profile, transformational projects such as HS2, Hinkley and Heathrow are vital but must not be prioritised to the detriment of the Highways England and Network Rail schemes that keep our country running.”

He added: “Since the start of this decade we have seen a revitalised commitment to infrastructure investment and its transformative power. The focus now must be on delivery.”