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Industry urges focus on Brexit and spending plans when MPs return

parliament

MPs have been urged to bring urgent clarity to infrastructure investment and post-Brexit trading arrangements when they return to Westminster next week.

Key industry figures outlined their priorities for the government as the six-week Parliamentary recess draws to a close.

Top of the wishlist are announcements to clarify when long-mooted projects will get underway, and how civils firms will be affected by the UK’s exit from the EU.

Colin Wood, chief executive for civil and infrastructure at Aecom, called for ministers to consider the impact on the industry if Brexit affected the movement of people and raw materials.

“As we enter the negotiations that will lead to the UK leaving the EU, it is essential that the government provides reassurance to the market in what could be uncertain times,” he said.

Wood added that investment in major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail 2 would build confidence within the industry.

“Given the critical role of infrastructure in driving the economy, confirmation that much-needed programmes will be funded will give industry the certainty it needs to deliver.

“Rapid progress of vital programmes such as the Northern Powerhouse will help the UK compete on the global stage so more clarity around how these will be delivered is crucial.”

David Leam, infrastructure director at business group London First, said the autumn Budget would provide an opportunity for ministers to back big schemes.

“All eyes will be on the chancellor to give the green light to Crossrail 2 at the Budget,” he said. “With Crossrail on the verge on opening, showing what can be achieved when business and policy-makers work together, what better moment to plan for the long term and confirm the government’s backing for the new line.”

Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association, urged a keen eye on delivery of major projects such as HS2 and Hinkley Point C.

“The government needs to focus on ensuring that these occur without significant delays and cost overruns so businesses in the whole construction supply chain can plan and invest in skills, capacity and innovation in advance,” he said.

The ICE demanded information on what plans were being put in place to compensate for the potential loss of access to cheap project finance after Brexit.

It also asked how any loss of migrant labour would be mitigated, and called for consideration of the “physical infrastructure needed to maintain mutually beneficial links with the EU under a new customs system while expanding trade with the rest of the world”.

Build UK said it was keen to see the government maintain its focus on the recently announced Construction Sector Deal this term.

This deal set out a number of pledges including investment in digital technology and research for innovation.

The trade body particularly welcomed the commitment to develop a “fairer approach to contract and payment practices” to ensure smaller firms were not disadvantaged.

The House of Commons returns to business on 4 September.  

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