or political parties, it’s always a tough balancing act pulling together a manifesto. They’re looking for a suite of policies which are attractive to as many people as possible and which will also work as soundbite summaries in the evening news and on the radio.
It should be different to anything that’s come before, as well as the manifestos of other major parties. It also needs to avoid potential political pitfalls and the policies when taken together need to tell a story which chimes with who they are attempting to appealing to.
For ACE, it’s a bit of an easier job but while there won’t be many member companies that are against our calls for further investment in infrastructure, we will still need to develop a suite of policies which are attractive to politicians and which, quite frankly, are easily implementable with a minimum of political effort. But, like political manifestos, we need to also be telling a story.
With all of this in mind, we have recently launched our 2019 manifesto, Infrastructure for everyone, which, as its title suggests, makes the very clear case for more investment in infrastructure to our political parties where we have called for infrastructure to be invested to the tune of 2% of annual GDP and for powers to be devolved to help unlock productivity in the regional economy.
On transport we have called for a future government to develop and support an integrated transport system, to make clear commitments on HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, to continue its roads reforms and give more say to regions and cities on investment.
For utilities we have called for new financial vehicles to encourage investment in renewables, to empower customers to manage gas and electricity demand, to recognise that broadband and mobile networks should, in fact, be viewed as utilities.
Perhaps the biggest issue for the public from our manifesto will be housing where there is plenty of political appetite for new ideas. We’re asking for a future government to explore new ways of ensuring all groups who are involved with housing development (landowners, housebuilders, local authorities, etc…) have a share in the subsequent uplift in property values that ensues, to encourage brownfield development and for a minimum guarantee of 15% in all schemes to be allocated to social housing.
We also recognise that our national housing crisis isn’t just about delivery and that a pure focus on numbers of dwellings ignores issues around quality. We want greater appreciation of placemaking principles which will ensure housing developments are welcomed by local communities, attractive to planners and happier and more productive places to live.
On water you may have already seen our proposals for the development of a new crowdsourced digital tool to aid in the fight against floods. This, of course, sits alongside our proposals for additional investment in physical infrastructure. The aftermath of the recent floods in South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the Midlands had a huge disruptive impact on landowners, home owners and businesses and our recommendations offer specific solutions put forward by members to institutional failure.
In addition to these direct proposals for investment and support for new ideas, we brought together proposals around finance, value, skills, sustainability, net zero and innovation. All of these elements are vital to the work of consultants and engineers which is why we have included a range of suggestions and improvements which could help unlock productivity and the potential of our industry.
Taken together, and as a single package, these proposals, policies and themes tell the story of how we can deliver infrastructure for everyone, while generating economic growth for the UK and improving the day-to-day lives of people up and down the country. The hard work of convincing a future government to back our manifesto starts now and we will be using the manifesto as a platform for our engagement with whoever forms the next government on these issues and the upcoming spending review.