The government is being urged by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering to make a series of key strategic interventions to help the industry overcome the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.
In a letter to the chancellor, ACE has called for a series of proactive and positive immediate, short and medium-term measures that could be taken to help the industry. The letter argues that rather than “simply ask for a cash flow bail-out” these interventions would “help to de-risk the future pipeline and ensure the industry is “fit for the future”.
The interventions include:
- A grant of up to £50,000 to SMEs in the sector to enable them to meet the digital requirements of working from home to be spent on hardware and specialist software.
- Acceleration of the pre-construction phase of government programmes, including schools, hospitals and roads, to mitigate the downturn in private sector work, and help projects become shovel-ready sooner.
- Turning the high-level commitment of an “infrastructure revolution” into a reality with a clear published pipeline of projects in the autumn to stimulate the wider economy and generate business confidence.
- Providing tax incentives for the housebuilding sector and further city deals to devolved mayors to encourage private sector development.
- Investment in Future of Consultancy demonstrator projects, £1m seed-funding towards the business case and wider funding for R&D and innovation. All of which will ensure the entire sector is more robust going forwards.
The letter also stressed the importance of the industry in delivering on the government’s longer term ambitions for infrastructure to act as a catalyst for economic growth and in delivering on society’s net zero ambitions.
Commenting on the letter, ACE chief executive Hannah Vickers said: “Given the strategic importance of our industry to delivering the government’s clear ambitions on infrastructure, we have made some simple asks to help our members see through the uncertainty ahead. These are practical and tangible steps that could be taken now to provide much needed support, boost growth in the medium term, and ensure our sector is ready for the future.”
ACE chair for 2020, Paul Reilly managing director, Stantec - Infrastructure and Buildings, said: “The government has made much of its infrastructure revolution and it will be crucial to a long-term, post-coronavirus plan for economic growth, but the reality is that without support now, many will be unable to help make this a reality.”