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Next government must make infrastructure a priority says ICE

The party which wins the General Election must put infrastructure at the heart of its economic policy and prioritise investment, the ICE said today.

Focus on infrastructure is vital to the UK’s efforts to drive long term economic growth, job creation, communities regeneration and quality of life improvements.

The ICE’s Manifesto for Infrastructure, published this week, warns that Britain will lose its competitive edge if politicians choose short term, vote winning policies.

This would result in “other competing nations taking our edge, and the UK’s resilience diminishing”.

The ICE said the next government must establish a long term vision for infrastructure and a framework that puts this above party politics. This would build on progress achieved in recent years.

The ICE also said those elected on 7 May must unlock the potential of city regions to help rebalance growth. They must also future proof vital infrastructure by embedding climate change resilience into decision making, it said.

The Institution also said politicians should step up Britain’s efforts to secure a world class engineering workforce that can drive innovation and economic productivity.

The Manifesto recommends key policies to help deliver these goals, including:

  • Establish an independent infrastructure body, ideally by restructuring the Treasury’s Infrastructure UK department to reduce delay and uncertainty
  • Act swiftly and boldly on the Davies Commission’s airport capacity recommendations, paving the way for delivery
  • Work with local authorities to clear the road maintenance backlog and commit to a regime of planned, preventative maintenance, addressing defects on a longer term, value for money, basis
  • Future proof new infrastructure by embedding resilience into decision making criteria for determining which projects go ahead.

This would also include efforts to limit the “domino effect” of the failure of one infrastructure system across networks when one system fails

  • Implement energy market reform fully and smoothly, keeping changes to a minimum, to entrench cross-party support for electricity decarbonisation
  • Commit to a long term maintenance investment programme for flood risk management
  • Establish an Office for Resource Management in government to entrench a “circular economy” ethos across all departments and promote resource management as a driver of growth
  • Accelerate the devolution of transport powers by creating city region transport authorities with

responsibility for road infrastructure and all public transport, supported by an overarching national transport strategy for England

  • Commit to increasing the quality of apprenticeships, so the UK can benefit from a pipeline of talent
  • Ensure Ofsted rigorously inspects schools’ careers guidance so the range of science, technology, engineering and maths paths, including vocational and technician roles, are communicated to students.

“Infrastructure is the foundation of all modern societies - it not only boosts GDP and job creation but regenerates communities, connects people and places and equips future generations with desirable skills,” said ICE director general director general Nick Baveystock.

“The benefits of infrastructure investment are now well established across political divides, resulting in some welcome schemes and initiatives and infrastructure rightly positioned high on the political agenda.

“We are, however, at a critical time - where the scale of the UK’s needs is large and growing. Public finances remain tight and we are slowly emerging as an attractive market for infrastructure investment - it is vital therefore that we do not lose impetus,” he said.

“Whichever party wins the General Election, infrastructure should form a central plank of its economic policy - building on the progress already made and using infrastructure to realise the UK’s full economic potential,” said Baveystock.

“Failing to give it a front row seat, or opting for shorter term electoral wins, could lead to other competing nations taking our edge and the UK’s resilience diminishing,”said Baveystock.

“This is no time for the faint hearted - the next government must establish a long term vision for infrastructure and a framework that facilitates cross-party consensus.

“We need to build the UK’s resilience, rebalance growth, and secure a world class engineering workforce.

“There are also some tough decisions ahead - not least on the UK’s aviation policy and our future energy mix.

  • The Manifesto for Infrastructure forms part of ICE’s “Commit to Infrastructure” campaign - join the debate on Twitter by following @ICE_engineers and using the hashtag #Commit2Infrastructure.

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