GOVERNMENT should step up and utilise the final Budget before the General Election to show its commitment to infrastructure, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) said today.
The leading engineering body said there were opportunities that could be seized by the Chancellor in this week’s Budget – including driving forward plans to devolve transport powers to city regions, closing the investment gap in flood defence maintenance and setting out steps for a preventative local road maintenance regime – that would address defects on a long-term ‘value for money’ basis.
The calls follow the launch of ICE’s Manifesto for Infrastructure last month, which urged all parties to build on the progress made over the last five years. It warned that failing to put infrastructure at the heart of economic plans would hand the advantage to competing nations and reduce the country’s resilience to climate change and other threats.
ICE Director General, Nick Baveystock, said: “This is a critical time – all parties recognise that the scale of the UK’s infrastructure needs is growing, and that public finances will remain tight throughout the next administration. There are a number of promises on the table that if delivered could boost GDP, create jobs, regenerate our communities and equip future generations with desirable skills.
“This final Budget before 7 May presents a crucial opportunity for Government to step up and demonstrate its long term commitment to infrastructure.
“There are a number of key areas we believe George Osborne could address this week. Flood defence maintenance funding is still allocated annually and this is insufficient. Flood risk management is a long-term challenge and we would like to see a 6 year investment programme for maintenance – to match the 6 year commitment made to investing in new flood infrastructure.
“We would also like to see clarity on exactly how Government plans to unlock the potential of our city regions and rebalance growth, and see commitment to a planned, preventative local road maintenance regime – addressing defects on a long-term ‘value for money’ basis instead of through costly, reactive ‘quick fix’ work.”