Civils firms have welcomed chancellor George Osborne’s infrastructure spending commitment – but called for explicit promises to fund major schemes such as High Speed 2.
Osborne this morning pledged to spend £100bn this parliament on infrastructure, and claimed construction would be at the heart of November’s spending review.
This was warmly greeted by engineering companies, who have been fearing cuts to capital projects when the chancellor sets out his spending plans next month. The amount is understood to match almost exactly the current spending figure in the National Infrastructure Pipeline for 2015-2020.
Richard Robinson, chief executive of civil infrastructure across Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa at engineering and design giant Aecom, said: “The Chancellor’s commitment to putting infrastructure at the heart of the spending review is welcome news, along with a £100bn pledge on infrastructure spend by 2020.
“However, it is not yet clear if this is confirmation that all transformative existing programmes currently in their early stages will be funded. This confirmation would demonstrate long-term vision and real recognition that infrastructure investment fuels economic growth, helping the UK compete on the global stage.”
Robinson is keen to see a firm commitment to HS2 and projects to boost connectivity in the North of England.
Alasdair Reisner, chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said the body welcomed both the £100bn commitment and the announcement of the seven commissioners who will join Lord Adonis at the National Infrastructure Commission.
“The construction industry welcomes today’s announcements and looks forward to supporting the commission over the coming years,” he said.
Osborne insisted the spending review would be about delivering security.
“British people have to spend longer than they should getting to work, pay more than they should in energy bills and can’t buy the houses they want because of the failure of successive governments to think long-term,” he said.
“Infrastructure isn’t some obscure concept – it’s about people’s lives, economic security and the sort of country we want to live in. That’s why I am determined to shake Britain out of its inertia on infrastructure and end the situation where we trail our rivals when it comes to building everything from the housing to the power stations that our children will need.
“This is about jobs, growth, living standards and ensuring Britain is fit for the future. We must be the builders. At the spending review, I will commit to investing £100bn in infrastructure over the next five years and we are creating an independent commission to give us a long-term, unbiased analysis of the country’s major infrastructure needs.”