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Don’t let infrastructure lose momentum says industry

Pulse - Infrastructure Intelligence

Business leaders are urging the new government not to let post-election wrangling delay progress on UK infrastructure.

In the latest Infrastructure Intelligence Pulse survey, produced in association with global software firm Deltek, 120 leaders of infrastructure related businesses said that the biggest threat to their businesses was a hiatus in decision making on key policies. The summer recess and potential policy reviews by the incoming government are major threats to the industry said professionals.

“A lot of work has already been done and has allowed the UK economy to gain momentum and both local and foreign investment through market confidence.  Any immediate rethinking will lose momentum and confidence,”

“We have built momentum behind the National Infrastructure Plan and invested accordingly,” said a senior consultant who expressed concern that infrastructure spend could be subject to reviews, emergency budgets and curtailment.

In the Pulse survey 49% of infrastructure business leaders said they were voting Conservative in a bid to retain economic stability and reduce uncertainty. Just 14% were planning to vote Liberal Democrat and 13% Labour.

“A lot of work has already been done and has allowed the UK economy to gain momentum and both local and foreign investment through market confidence.  Any immediate rethinking will lose momentum and confidence,” said a consultancy CEO. “Data shows that the UK economy is on a positive track," said a consulting business manager. “We have a fragile recovery and would like to see some stability.” 

Business leaders pointed to tough decisions that needed to be made on airports and energy in particular and urged the incoming government to plan such developments in a much more strategic way. “Like health and education infrastructure should be considered outside of politics,” said the CEO of a consulting firm. “Government should set a clear framework, with clear policies and let the industry do what it is good at.”

Survey respondents also highlighted that better planning for infrastructure could enable industry to better meet the skills challenge and urged the new government to promote a quality based procurement agenda with good design judgement at its heart.

“The quality of civil servants involved in infrastructure decision making is embarrassing, we have a real and urgent competency problem,”

“The new government must understand that they have a huge role to play in both smoothing the flow of work into the industry and in leading the way in value led procurement.  Both have a profound effect on the shape of the industry and the levels of investment that can be afforded,” said a consulting CEO.

Several respondents also urged the new government to make public contracts more accessible to SMEs and crack down on long payment periods under contracts. Others suggested that an incoming government was a good opportunity to address a lack of skills within government on infrastructure.

“The quality of civil servants involved in infrastructure decision making is embarrassing, we have a real and urgent competency problem,” said a manager in a client organisation.

See more from the Pulse survey - Conservatives best for infrastructure say business leaders