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Call for ‘shovel ready’ schemes to boost economy

Night roadworks

Balfour Beatty is calling for the public sector to take advantage of low interest rates and invest in small infrastructure schemes that provide a more immediate boost to the economy.

These ‘shovel ready’ schemes will help construction firms with their pipeline and certainty to invest in training, which will then help in the delivery of larger scale projects such as HS2, said Balfour Beatty. The views were published in the ‘Small Scale, Big Impact: Infrastructure and Economic Regeneration’ paper.

In September Chancellor Philip Hammond told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee that rapid-delivery road and rail projects would better boost the economy over larger, long-term infrastructure commitments.

“Whilst major infrastructure investment will be vital to the strength of the UK over the mid-term, we believe there is also a way for the government’s industrial strategy to drive rapid economic stimulus, with considerable geographic precision,” said Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn.

“As of today a number of road, rail, public realm, flood defence and construction projects exist which meet the Chancellor’s tests, in many cases have been approved, but are stalled by lack of funding. Taking advantage of current low borrowing costs to select and implement those with potential to bring maximum impact on a localised basis would quickly disperse uncertainty and set the country on the path to an economic growth that works for everyone.”

The paper makes some recommendations including the need for a solid project pipeline, looking at economic modelling which not only argues for investment more broadly across the country, but also isn’t solely focused on new infrastructure.

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