Almost three quarters (72%) of businesses are ‘open to the idea of road charging’ and 70% of infrastructure firms are prepared to pay higher fees for quicker planning decisions, a major new survey from the CBI has revealed.
The results of the CBI/AECOM Infrastructure Survey 2015 - which this year had its highest ever response rate of 722 firms – revealed a frustration with the current state of the nation’s assets but a confidence that things were at least heading in the right direction.
It also clearly demonstrated once again the importance business places on infrastructure, with 94% saying its quality was a key deciding factor in planning investments.
- 96% of businesses concerned about congestion
- 89% rate road investment as crucial or beneficial
- 72% open to road charging.
- 80% concerned about the poor quality of the UK’s roads.
At a governance level business has backed the creation of the National Infrastructure Commission this month, with 99% seeing an ‘evidence-based assessment of need’ as important or very important.
Devolution of decision-making and local involvement also won strong backing with nearly two thirds (61%) of UK firms – and 73% of English firms – suggesting it will improve the delivery of local infrastructure.
Although when it comes to driving this agenda forwards, 79% of infrastructure providers view certainty of revenue and 76% see local business leadership as crucial.
91% of businesses see a new runway in the south east as important
John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: ‘The arteries of modern Britain are working overtime. Whether it’s our creaking railways, clogged roads, and crowded runways, or our digital links and the energy to power them struggling to keep up, businesses now want the Government to deliver the large scale upgrades that it has made ambitious strides towards.
'The quality of infrastructure is a key factor in firms’ investment decisions, so businesses, communities and the whole country simply can’t afford the cost of inaction.’
Sector by sector the business community expressed clear concerns and a desire to see more investment.
A new runway in the South East was rated as important to 91% of firms and a further 81% of firms see rail as crucial to their operations, with 90% seeing increasing capacity as a priority.
In highways, 96% of businesses expressed concerns over congestion on Britain’s roads, which according to the RAC Foundation could cost the economy up to £8bn each year. And 89% of firms see investment in roads as ‘crucial or beneficial’, with 56% directly calling for increased spending - rising to 67% in Scotland and Wales.
- 81% of firms see rail as crucial and 90% want increased capacity
- 45% believe capital spending should be increased
- 55% support HS2, but 92% want a clearer picture of how the project sits in the longer-term plan for the UK’s railways.
Importantly, business is now suggesting it is willing to dip into its own pockets to pay for improvements and help speed up the planning process.
Not only do 85% of infrastructure firms see red tape as a ‘significant barrier’ in the planning system but also 70% are prepared to pay higher fees for quicker decisions, with even more (72%) considering the benefits of road user charging.
The news comes as private sector members of Local Enterprise Partnerships are set to be given powers to block or approve rises in business rates by majority vote in areas with elected mayors.
Infrastructure giant AECOM, which partnered the survey, also lent its weight to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Richard Robinson, chief executive of civil infrastructure, Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, at AECOM, said: ‘Recent moves such as the creation of a National Infrastructure Commission and the mapping of expertise against the project pipeline through the National Infrastructure Plan for Skills are welcome initiatives.
'But more needs to be done to support the development of UK companies’ intellectual assets and to create an environment that encourages the development and export of organisational and technical skills. Only then will UK firms be better equipped to compete on the global stage.’
- 92% see flights to one or more market as crucial or important
- 65% view flights to the US as crucial or important, 64% flights to emerging markets
- 45% believe our connections to emerging markets are fit for purpose
- 91% see a new runway in the South East as crucial or important