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Brown fuels UK transport boom

PUBLIC SECTOR capital spending on transport in the UK is set to increase by just under 40% for each of the next three years, the Government revealed in July.

Chancellor Gordon Brown, announcing the Government's spending plans until March 2004, told the House of Commons that transport spending would rise in real terms by '20% a year'.

However, analysis of the figures released later revealed that the spending is heavily weighted towards capital expenditure. This will increase, year on year, by 38.6% in 2001-02, 39.5% in 2002-03 and 36.9% in 2003-04.

More detail of how the money will be spent was revealed in the Government's Ten Year Transport plan published a few days later.

Although transport capital expenditure was the biggest beneficiary of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review, Brown was almost as generous to other sectors. He claimed: 'We propose to tackle the long-term neglect of investment in our country with a step change in capital investment.'

Increases in capital spending over and above that set out in the Government's last three year spending plan, announced in July 1998, were declared across the board.

Along with transport, refurbishment of public sector housing looks set to be the biggest winner. Construction Forecasting & Research suggests that infrastructure workload will rise by 13% during the next three years, while social housing refurbishment will boom by 21%.

ICE senior vice president Joe Dwyer said the increase in capital spending was 'of great significance' and would 'benefit civil engineering', as well as ensuring 'sustained economic growth for the whole country'.

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