ICE welcomes Tory backing at party conference ahead of Spending Review
The ICE has welcomed recognition from Conservative Party deputy chairman for local government Bob Neill that government must find alternative funding to ensure infrastructure continues to get built.
Neill spoke at an Infrastructure for Growth event at the Conservative party conference, organised by an alliance of engineering and construction bodies including the ICE. The minister for local government and planning said there was a need for “radical surgery” to public finances, but agreed on the importance of infrastructure investment. He also stressed the need to create a planning system that aids the delivery of nationally significant projects.
“Infrastructure is critical - we are at one on this,” he said. “But we must identify new and imaginative vehicles to help attract private investment and create the right environment for it.”
Tax incremental funding
Neill said the recently announced Tax Incremental Funding initiative - where local authorities can borrow against predicted growth in their business rates to fund major infrastructure projects - showed government’s commitment to unlocking new funding sources.
He also reiterated government’s commitment to speeding up the “back-loaded and adversarial” planning system. “We must keep the best of the Infrastructure Planning Commission, but repair the democratic deficits,” he said.
Officer for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Infrastructure (APPGI) Mark Garnier also spoke at the event. Garnier agreed investing in infrastructure was a good way to “enlarge the economy” and said it should get a “fair hearing” in the coming comprehensive spending review. In his keynote speech to the conference, prime minister David Cameron also gave his backing to key infrastructure projects including high speed rail, carbon capture and storage and a green investment bank.
Infrastructure for growth reception
Politicians, party members, business and industry leaders attended the Infrastructure for Growth reception - led by the alliance of the Association of Consulting and Engineering, Civil Engineering Contractors Association,
Construction Products Association and CITB-ConstructionSkills and the ICE.
Unless infrastructure can be properly planned and delivered, and essential skills maintained and developed, the UK’s economic recovery could be jeopordised and emissions targets missed, was the message of the partnering organisations.
Chief executives of the alliance and five MPs also met at the conference to discuss infrastructure and skills needs on a national and local level.