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Construction calls for infrastructure to be centre stage during general election

With just over seven weeks to go until the UK goes to the polls to elect a new government, the construction industry is preparing to lobby candidates from all the major parties with demands for infrastructure to form a key part of the party manifestos.

While Brexit is sure to be headline news during the campaign, the construction sector will be collectively hoping that the UK’s political parties will make a significant commitment to infrastructure spending as a key driver of economic prosperity as they publish their manifestos and election pledges.

With opinion polls highlighting the increasing importance of issues like transport, housing, the environment and climate change to voters, the construction sector believes it is well placed to call on political parties to make concrete pledges on delivering the current infrastructure pipeline as well as signing up to fund future much-needed mega-projects like Heathrow and Crossrail 2.

Hannah Vickers, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), said: “Since 2015, we have seen a much welcomed greater appreciation for the social and economic importance of infrastructure to the UK economy with a corresponding increase in government spending. As we face the upcoming general election, the UK, however, stands at the crossroads; either it can decide to invest in social and economic infrastructure networks that can compete with emerging economies, or it can continue to underinvest and see its international competitiveness fall.

“We want all political parties to accept the need for a long-term plan for infrastructure investment and to work together to provide industry with the certainty it needs to invest in our future. ACE looks forward to working with the political parties to ensure that this happens.”

Civils contractors have called on all parties in the UK to back infrastructure as the best means of delivering economic growth. The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) said that any incoming government must commit to an ambitious infrastructure agenda if the economy is to succeed once Britain has resolved its future relationship with the European Union.

CECA director of external affairs Marie-Claude Hemming said: “By their very nature general elections are unpredictable, but one thing is clear is that whichever party or parties form the next UK government the infrastructure sector has the potential to be a driver of growth in the economy. That’s why we are calling on all parties to commit to the existing pipeline of projects, as well as to guarantee the future of mega-projects such as HS2, airport expansion, and Crossrail 2.”

Hemming added that their research shows that £1 of investment in infrastructure delivers £2.82 benefit to the wider economy and “if the economy is to succeed in all parts of the UK, any new government must provide the certainty our members need to deliver the schemes businesses and communities rely upon across England, Scotland and Wales.”

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “As we head into a general election, we hope there will not be significant hiatus in rail work or the development of supportive policy for any longer than necessary and that the Williams and Oakervee Reviews will report soon after the election, so we can all get on with building world-class, customer focused, rail both at home and abroad.”

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