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Infrastructure industry calls for next government to devolve fiscal powers to cities and create dedicated infrastructure minister

27 April – Leading players in the infrastructure sector have today called for the next government to adopt ten new measures that will improve the delivery of UK infrastructure and boost economic productivity and growth.

 

The recommendations have been outlined in a new report by global infrastructure consultancy WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff in collaboration with the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) titled “Cities and Infrastructure: Ensuring infrastructure continues to drive the UK economy”.

Key new actions include the creation of a dedicated infrastructure minister, further devolution of fiscal powers to regional powerhouses, and the development of more economic corridors that better connect cities.

The ten opportunities outlined for government were developed following an industry survey and a series of round tables held last year by WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff and industry magazine and website Infrastructure Intelligence of 152 infrastructure industry executives, which found:

  • 80% thought that the public does not understand the role of infrastructure in enabling growth.
  • 72% thought that cities should have greater fiscal/revenue control and decision-taking powers on investment priorities.
  • 94% thought that the government should not put off investment decisions until there was greater certainty on Britain’s relationship with the rest of Europe.
  • 79% said the quality of our cities and the public realm will be of increasing importance in increasing our national competitiveness should we leave the EU.

Ian Liddell, MD for planning & advisory, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, said:

“Infrastructure is an enabler of growth, drives the economy and ultimately our national prosperity. There is cross-party understanding of infrastructure’s importance, so we would like to see politicians on the campaign trail demonstrating their commitment by explaining at a national and local level how they are going to deliver the measures we need to become a more competitive and productive country”.

Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, CEO Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), commented:

“We are living in rapidly changing times characterised chiefly by technological progress and rapid urban population growth. These two challenges alone are exerting huge stresses on our towns and cities. We can at least relieve these pressures by ensuring we have the right infrastructure in place delivered at the right time and at the right cost to society. But to achieve this will require from both industry and the government an on-going rapport that is well-informed, joined-up and all inclusive.”

The ten measures outlined in the report are:   

1. The establishment of a minister for infrastructure to provide a clear, strong focus in government and who could head a fully-fledged national infrastructure department.

2. The empowerment of metropolitan leaders to become local clients with powers and financial resources to produce comprehensive local development plans.

3. The devolution of fiscal power to London, Birmingham, Manchester, and the other big UK cities.

4. Facilitating the connectivity within and between cities to develop better connected economic corridors and nodes that will act as growth promoters.

5. Migrating to a more stable long-term pipeline of infrastructure projects to give the private sector greater investment confidence. Five-year investment-cycles have proved unable to facilitate long-term infrastructure provision.

6. The social value of infrastructure (jobs, schools, hospitals, etc.) should be made more obvious to the public.

7. New structures and governance models must be implemented that will facilitate regional integration and strategic planning;

8. New place-based identities that will promote cities and regions and help attract investors. (Cardiff Capital Region comprises three enterprise zones in which the Welsh Government is prioritising investment in business infrastructure);

9. Making infrastructure more resilient to climate change

10. A greater focus on brownfield sites to allow more efficient land utilisation.

Notes to editors

For media enquiries please contact Tom Hawkins on 020 7314 4585 / tom.hawkins@wspgroup.com

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff is one of the world's leading engineering professional services consulting firms. Our 36,000 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, 7,000 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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