n 16 March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will once again stand before the House of Commons and the Nation to issue the new budget.
Speaking on the forthcoming Budget, ACE chief executive, Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, said: "with economic uncertainty around the world increasing now is not the time for the Chancellor to play fast and loose with the hard won economic credibility that has been a key part of his time at the Treasury. Within the constraints of budget discipline, the Chancellor must continue to provide certainty and clarity over the long term infrastructure pipeline as this will be the foundation of future economic growth in the UK. Now is the time to build increased capacity in the UK economy as this is the only way to create the growth we so badly need."
The 2016 budget, as with all budgets, will see some government expenditure lessened, some maintained, and some increased. As such the lead up to the budget has seen much speculation, for which many of the UK’s large scale infrastructure projects have been included.
Why? Because the UK’s commitment to infrastructure projects, ongoing or future, will not only allow politicians to fulfill promises for improved connectivity, continued devolution, and improved energy production, but will also assure the UK people that growth in population is matched with continued services fundamental to daily life.
Association for Consultancy and Engineering, as the voice of the industry for over 100 years, knows that not everything the government or people desire will be. However, there are a few key asks from our industry regarding Budget 2016, all of which are deliverable progress points, whether in whole or in part.
1. Devolution of Business Rates to city regions, including London
2. Commitment to build HS2
3. Commitment to Airport expansion in South East
4. Improved transport connectivity in the North
a. Northern Powerhouse Rail & Smart North
b. Electrification of the region
c. Northern & TransPennine Express franchise
5. Crossrail 2 funding
6. Commitment to funding Network Rail
7. Consolidation of local authority pension funds in a Sovereign Wealth Fund
8. Investment in Energy production
9. Greater direct government commissioning of homes
ACE is compelled by the infrastructure needs of the UK and will campaign to ensure the Chancellor ensures that reality and ambition coincide in the 2016 Budget. To rebalance our economy we need to ensure that devolved responsibilities are followed by devolved powers if the Norther Powerhouse is to become a reality, and that connectivity in the North is effectively improved.
Alongside this, the funding of projects on the cusp of providing essential services to the people, such as Crossrail 2, needs to go ahead this year if we are to capitalise on their benefit. With the pledge to build one million new homes by the end of this Parliament, there must be a greater level of direct government commissioning of homes. We also need to ensure that sustainable energy production receives its much needed investment so that next winter all UK people are kept warm.
All of this is deliverable within the existing economic climate, and would greatly serve the needs of the UK people.
ACE will be providing further analysis of the 2016 budget to its members after it is announced on 16 March, and we invite all those concerned about the deliverability of infrastructure to reach out for further information on the impact this budget will have.