CBI/AECOM Infrastructure Survey 2016
Almost half of firms (44 per cent) believe the UK’s infrastructure has improved over the past five years, but only a quarter (27 per cent) think it will pick up in the next five years, and two thirds (64 per cent) suspect it will hamper the country’s international competitiveness in the coming decades, according to the 2016 CBI/AECOM Infrastructure Survey.
Delivery of key projects already in the pipeline emerged as the top priority among the 728 firms surveyed. Delivery of £38 billion of investment in the rail network through Control Period 5 (99 per cent of respondents), and £15 billion of investment in the UK’s motorways and A-roads through the Road Investment Strategy (97 per cent of respondents) rank highly, as does delivery of a new runway in the South East (85 per cent) & HS2 (80 per cent).
The Government’s recent track record has encouraged firms. Infrastructure has become a core part of the country’s long-term economic agenda since 2010, and 42 per cent of firms see the policies undertaken since the start of the 2015 Parliament – like the creation of Transport for the North – as positive steps.
However, confidence that overall infrastructure will improve in the coming five years has fallen 16 percentage points since the 2015 Survey (from 43 per cent to 27 per cent). A significant majority of firms are not optimistic that infrastructure in aviation (74 per cent), energy (73 per cent) and roads (69 per cent) will improve, with only digital bucking the trend (59 per cent of companies expect improvements in this area). Moreover, the majority (64 per cent) of firms feel the UK is unlikely to be more internationally competitive in 2050 than it is now, and 46 per cent are dissatisfied with the current state of their local infrastructure.
To secure delivery of the most important projects, Britain’s biggest business group, and the global infrastructure services firm, AECOM, want to see the Government reaffirm spending plans and press ahead with implementing policy decisions to ensure projects are delivered in full over the course of this Parliament.
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “Infrastructure is a key driver of productivity and living standards. Day in, day out, Britain’s businesses rely on our roads, railways and runways to move their goods, services and people up and down the country. Firms give the Government a good report card on infrastructure, and are pleased with its commitment in recent years to put infrastructure at the heart of its long-term economic agenda.
“But announcements and commitments are one thing. Seeing tarmac, tracks, and super-fast internet cables being laid is another. It isn’t right that nearly one in two firms are dissatisfied with their region’s infrastructure, or that confidence in the future is running low, especially when it comes to delivery, the key piece of the infrastructure puzzle.
“So, our message is a simple one: at the end of the day, delivery is what matters. It’s great the Government is taking the decisions for our long-term future prosperity, like giving the green light to the new runway at Heathrow, Hinkley Point and improving digital connections. Businesses also need clear, deliverable timetables for action on major national projects – like Control Period 5 and the Road Investment Strategy – in order for them to act as magnets for investment, growth and jobs.
“If we don’t get spades in the ground on existing plans, it’s clear we could put a major dent in the competitiveness of British business – and the UK itself. This is something we cannot afford to do, especially during this period of uncertainty as the UK leaves the EU. Firms are ready and willing to work with the Government to develop the skills and capacity to deliver on plans.”
Richard Robinson, Chief Executive – Civil Infrastructure, Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, at AECOM, said: “As the UK plans for post-Brexit scenarios, the role of infrastructure is more vital than ever. Competing more directly on the global stage requires strong foundations to secure the nation’s international standing.
“Developing truly world-class national infrastructure is therefore of paramount importance. It will enable British industry to innovate, expand and flourish, strengthening the UK’s reputation as a good place to do business. High-profile, transformational projects such as HS2, Hinkley and Heathrow are vital but must not be prioritized to the detriment of the Highways England and Network Rail schemes that keep our country running.
“At a time of uncertainty, clarity around infrastructure investment and delivery will boost business confidence. The UK has a long history of successful major infrastructure projects, leading the world in creating innovative new delivery models. Schemes such as Crossrail and Tideway are beacons of best practice around the globe.
“Fortunately the UK has moved on from the era of under-investment in infrastructure. Since the start of this decade we have seen a revitalized commitment to infrastructure investment and its transformative power. The focus now must be on delivery.”
Read the – 2016 CBI/AECOM Infrastructure Survey – here