Business leaders dubious on infrastructure pledge
CBI leader demands to see 'real pipeline of projects' so investors know what the options are
SOME business leaders have reacted with scepticism to the Chancellor's promise of a big spend on infrastructure, due to be outlined in more detail today by Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Overall, the government is pledging £100bn on its infrastructure programme, including guarantees for nuclear power plants, a commitment to the High Speed 2 rail line linking London to Manchester and Leeds, and a raft of road and other rail projects, according the Daily Telegraph reports.
But the paper quotes CBI director-general John Cridland as saying: "While the Government talks a good game on infrastructure we've seen too little delivery on the ground so far. It is critical we see a real pipeline of projects, so investors know what schemes are going ahead, where and when".
Richard Threlfall, head of infrastructure at KPMG, said he thought it unlikely the government would provide any genuinely new projects. "We will all be very surprised if there's anything that appears that we have not heard of before," he said.
Although George Osborne has pledged £50.4bn of capital spending on roads, homes and rail in 2015/16, experts have pointed out that this is not only the same amount as last year but effectively a 1.7% cut because it has not been adjusted for inflation.
Nick Baveystock, director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers, said he welcomed a renewed focus on infrastructure but warned that the promises were not all good news: "Departmental cuts will inevitably place further pressure on local authority budgets, with road maintenance likely to suffer the brunt."