On the eve of the Budget, leaders of the government’s cross-party groups on underground space and on infrastructure sought to reassure industry that it would be “pro-growth” and “pro-infrastructure”.
Speaking at an All Party Parliamentary Group ‘Infrastructure for Growth’ reception in Westminster last night, Labour MP Nick Raynsford told assembled infrastructure players that support for major projects such as High Speed Two would remain strong within the major parties.
Tory MP Mark Garnier urged a realistic approach towards today’s Budget. He said “currently, we are borrowing 25p for every £1 we spend. There has to be an element of cuts.” Stabilising interest rates was a particular concern this year, he said.
“Big picture” approach
He added that the government tended to take a “sterile”, “big picture” approach towards UK infrastructure, claiming that “the Treasury takes a broad look at infrastructure from 100,000ft.”
Referring to his own constituency and its attempt to secure £75M of funding for a new bypass, he noted that smaller scale projects were at risk of getting overlooked as a result of the current government’s approach to capital spending.
Garnier said that the Treasury select committee would be “looking closely” at the mechanics of the Budget over the coming weeks and “what the Chancellor has said with regards to infrastructure.”
ICE President Peter Hansford repeated the major recommendations from the ICE’s joint Budget submission, produced by the ICE and the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association and the Construction Products Association. This said that regulatory reform, increased transparency and a balanced approach to localism were all imperative to a climate conducive to infrastructure spending.