Civil engineering contractors have called for the industry to work with government to develop better measures of the way that the nation’s infrastructure improves the lives of people in the UK.
Historically much of the case for the construction of new infrastructure has focussed on the economic impact it can generate, boosting local and national growth, but, in a landmark report published today, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association highlights the wide social benefits that also arise.
Prepared and researched by leading economic consultancy Cebr, The social benefits of infrastructure investment brings a new perspective to the debate about the UK’s infrastructure needs. The report contributes to a better understanding of the different ways in which various forms of infrastructure investment affect people’s lives and includes a series of recommendations for the government to consider ahead of the 2019 Spending Review:
A cross-sector working group should be established to create and champion a new national framework for the measurement of social benefits. This group would advise government departments on how to consistently appraise and evaluate the contribution of different types of infrastructure investment to social outcomes, with data resulting from this work supporting business cases for future investment.
The planning of future infrastructure projects and programmes should consider opportunities to spread the social benefits across the UK. In particular, consideration should be given to establishing infrastructure logistics and manufacturing hubs in former industrial towns and cities, creating new industrial heartlands that support multiple projects, create jobs, and rebalance the UK economy.
There is a need to move discussion away from an either/or approach to delivering much needed investment in London and across the rest of the UK. Instead there should be a recognition that investment outside the capital supports growth in London and vice versa.
Northern English cities should move towards a ‘Randstad’- style model of collaboration between interconnected cities, supporting increased global competitiveness.
To support the UK’s future infrastructure needs, the government should maintain a commitment to gross public funding support for infrastructure that meets the 1.2% of GDP fiscal remit set for the National Infrastructure Commission, while examining the case for higher social and economic outcomes if this ceiling was to be raised.
Commenting on the report, CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “Understanding how infrastructure affects people in different ways is vital to good investment decisions. We have, in this report gone beyond the usual approach of estimating the economic impacts infrastructure can bring, but instead have considered how its benefits affect people’s lives in different ways.
“The benefits of long-term infrastructure investment are clear. Not only is there a strong economic outcome – previous CECA / Cebr research has found that every £1 billion of infrastructure construction increases overall economic activity by £2.842bn – but the research published today demonstrates that there is also significant social benefit. Well planned infrastructure investment can not only transform how we all live and work, but it has a notable benefit for those areas which have been left behind over the years.”