Budget reaction: Govt 'must do more' on infrastructure


Today’s Budget for ‘the post Brexit future’ has been criticized for a lack of significant announcements on infrastructure projects such as Crossrail 2.

Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the London Pensions Fund Authority (LPFA), said: ‘With London still facing a major housing and transport crisis, we need Crossrail 2 to move forward so that we can continue to be a globally competitive city. As well as the creation of thousands of new jobs, 200,000 homes would be built along the line.’

London mayor Sadiq Khan also said he was ‘disappointed’ that the Government did not use the opportunity to pledge its support for Crossrail 2.

Lord Adonis

However, Mr Khan welcomed publication of the London Devolution Agreement, which makes devolves further powers on transport, infrastructure and other issues to City Hall.

Under the deal, London will pilot a new ‘Development Rights Auction Model’ for funding future infrastructure projects, which aims to provide significant funding towards future projects – allowing them to be built quicker and with less reliance on Government funding.

Lord Adonis, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said that while he welcomed the Government’s ‘positive’ response to the commission’s recommendations on mobile connectivity and 5G ‘the strategy around digital connectivity needs to be delivered coherently’.

He said: ‘A clear roadmap is required so that the proposed spending on fibre and connectivity pilots reflects the Commission’s conclusions and delivers tangible benefits to consumers and businesses.’

The North East Civil Engineering Contractors' Association said that unless further detail emerges from the transport secretary, it was an ‘underwhelming’ Budget for the region’s infrastructure needs.

Institution of Civil Engineers director general Nick Baveystock said: ‘Considered alongside the Modern Industrial Strategy and Digital Strategy, this Budget shows a strong desire to position the UK as a leading global economy, now and in the post-Brexit future.’

He added: ‘The chancellor is right to focus on the UK’s productivity and in recognising the critical role of infrastructure to meet that challenge.’

John Hicks, director and head of government & public at infrastructure firm AECOM, said the Budget was ‘peppered with announcements designed to offset any potential consequences of a hard exit from the EU’.

Road Safety Markings Association chief executive George Lee welcomed the investment of £690m for tackling congestion on local authority roads but sounded a word of caution regarding the overall financial settlement for local roads.

He said that by failing to acknowledge the ‘massive long-term issue on the maintenance and related safety of local authority roads' and focusing on shorter term funds, ‘the Government does not provide a lot of confidence that it sees the maintenance backlog as a live and pressing issue’.

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