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Protect infrastructure spend, urges ICE

The government must avoid making spending cuts that offer short term advantage, but undermine UK infrastructure’s contribution to long term prosperity, productivity and resilience the ICE said this week .

Some government departments which are responsible for infrastructure delivery and upkeep have been asked to produce plans to save 25% and 40%from their budgets ahead of November’s Spending Review, to save £20bn in public spending.

In its Spending Review submission, the Institution praised the government’s commitment to invest £100bn in infrastructure over the next five years, placing it at the heart of its economic strategy.

The ICE challenged the industry to play its part by driving innovation, upskilling the workforce and finding ways to deliver more with less. But it urged the government to support the industry’s transformation by taking a strategic view when making decisions on spending.

The ICE said the six year £2.3bn investment plan for flood defences should be protected to build the UK’s resilience to flooding and ensure that communities, business, transport networks and power supply do not suffer the same catastrophic effects as they did in the 2013-14 floods. These cost the economy an estimated £1.1bn, with damaging impacts on national productivity. The ICE also recommended protecting the £15bn investment for the road network, which supports long term growth by enabling access to work, education and the movement of essential goods into and around the UK.

But it stressed that protecting investment in new infrastructure was only part of the solution, and urged ministers to ensure that maintaining existing infrastructure is also factored into spending plans. ICE said a new “prevention is better than cure” approach is needed, breaking away from reactive patch-up work.

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