‘Crunch time’ for UK infrastructure as fears over delays emerge


The survey, conducted by the CBI and Aecom, found only one in five businesses were satisfied with the pace of delivery of infrastructure projects.

In addition, nearly three-quarters of companies (74 per cent) did not expect infrastructure to improve over the course of this parliament.

This concern was mirrored among the public, with only 26 per cent of those surveyed separately describing infrastructure delivery as satisfactory, while 76 per cent doubted infrastructure would improve in the next five years.

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said: “We’ve seen a real commitment from the government on infrastructure over the last year, from decisions on Heathrow and the A303 to pledges to scale up the supply of housing and clean energy.

“But our survey shows this is not translating into optimism about future improvements among both firms and the public, who are united in their concern about the pace of delivery for new projects.

“We’ve now reached crunch time for the UK’s infrastructure.”

Among businesses, policy inconsistency (94 per cent) and political risk (86 per cent) were cited as the two main barriers to preventing infrastructure improvement.

Infrastructure survey graphic 2017_CBI_Aecom

Infrastructure survey graphic 2017_CBI_Aecom

Source: CBI/Aecom

Aecom chief executive for civil infrastructure EMIA Richard Robinson added: “The overriding message from business and the public in this year’s survey is clear: more needs to be done to raise confidence and up the pace in which infrastructure is delivered.

“Now is the time to provide clarity around infrastructure investment and accelerate action.”

The report also highlighted regional differences, with 47 per cent of businesses in London satisfied with the state of local infrastructure compared with just 5 per cent in the South-west, where the controversial £1.6bn A303 tunnel is due to be built.

Certainty in the pipeline for infrastructure projects was also a major concern, with 68 per cent citing it as a barrier to delivering improvements.

The report concluded that businesses in the infrastructure sector needed a “more stable and steady pipeline, with bankable projects that have sufficient detail for investors”, to improve confidence.

The survey also revealed fears that leaving the EU will reduce funds for infrastructure works.

There was particular concern for road investment, with 71 per cent of businesses not confident that funding for road projects from EU sources – such as the European Investment Bank – will be replaced post-Brexit.

The survey was carried out between 29 June and 3 August this year, with 727 businesses responding, of which 49 per cent were larger firms with more than 500 employees.

Six per cent of respondents were from the construction industry.

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