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Response to 2016 Autumn Statement

23 November – Following today's Autumn Statement, our response focuses on the housing and infrastructure policies announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer:

 

Housing

Bill Price, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff property director said:

“Housing remains high on the agenda in terms of both rhetoric and some new measures to back it up. With affordable housing at record lows and a focus on the JAMs (just about managing), new funding here is a sensible and much needed policy. The concern is that governments are judged solely on the number of houses built. Therefore it is really encouraging to see the Chancellor make the direct connection between housing and infrastructure. If underutilised public land or even transport corridors around stations can be used for housing or other development that would align well with the needs of the sector. That’s why announcements on regional rail, roads and even broadband are just as important victories for the property market. Our sector is suffering from a lack of confidence, not cash. This new public sector investment will play a part in kick-starting the levels of property construction we need to see.”


Infrastructure

Miles Barnard, Mouchel managing director

“First, having such a strong advocate for infrastructure as the Chancellor is a real boost for the industry. The new figures for infrastructure funding should be rightly celebrated.

“Many of the key roads announcements were trailed prior to the Statement, so there were no real surprises. Nonetheless it is reassuring that this extra money is going to be deliberately targeted in the most important areas. In the same vein I’d also like to see the significant new funding in science and technology targeted in areas that most influence the modernisation of infrastructure including driverless vehicles and big data.

“We still await measures on how we can increase the number of young people into STEM subjects, but committing to mega-projects, and getting them ‘shovel-ready’ quickly, will help make our industry an attractive destination for graduates and apprenticeships and retain existing talent.”


North West

Mark Hurley, head of environmental

“It was good to see the Chancellor promise major infrastructure investment – earmarking £1.1bn for the regions – as this will be key going forward in terms of developing the quality of our Northern cities making them desirable places to live and work, as well as attracting investment and talent to ensure competitiveness.

The focus on highway improvements and on creating a world-class digital rail system will be key to addressing our capacity problem here in the North, and is a more forward-thinking approach than simply focusing on high speed rail as in the past. Addressing capacity issues is vital for achieving greater inter-city connectivity which must be tackled if we’re to create a Northern Powerhouse.

“The £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund is also a positive step in addressing the housing deficit in our region, but the Government will need to be clear in ensuring private and public sectors understand how to access this funding by creating clear commercial funding models for social infrastructure projects.”


North East and Yorkshire

Adrian Kemp, development director

“I was pleased to hear the Chancellors re-affirmation of the status of the Northern Powerhouse and I believe that the committed infrastructure investment in the regions and the claim that devolution will be at ‘the heart of the Government’ is a positive step towards Transport for the North becoming the UK’s first sub-national transport body.

"The financial commitment to infrastructure is there, but to ensure they are taken forward we must see Northern cities being given more powers to make decisions and that investment organisations are given the green light to deliver devolution and see infrastructure projects of all sizes, through to completion. With the current economic uncertainty, we welcome this ambitious plan to invest in the UK’s infrastructure, which will provide the stability to increase market confidence and enhance the competitiveness of the North and the UK as an investable proposition.”


Notes to editors

Media enquiries please contact Tom Hawkins, PR Manager:

tom.hawkins@wspgroup.com  / 020 7314 4585

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff is one of the world's leading engineering professional services consulting firms. Our 36,500 people, based in more than 500 offices, across 40 countries provide engineering and multidisciplinary services in a vast array of industry sectors, with a focus on technical excellence and client service.

In the UK, 7,100 people (including Mouchel Consulting) provide consultancy services to all aspects of the built and natural environment working across both the public and private sectors, with local and national governments, local authorities, developers, contractors and co-professionals. The combined business has been involved in many high profile UK projects including the Shard, Crossrail, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham, the re-development of London Bridge Station, Manchester Metrolink, M1 Smart Motorway, and the London Olympic & Paralympic Route Network.

www.wsp-pb.co.uk

 

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