Given the breadth of the Autumn Statement, as well as the scope of members' work, Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE chief executive of ACE has commented on various topics within the Autumn Statement including: investments in infrastructure, housing, roads, rail, broadband, East-West corridor, and R & D funding.
Dr Nelson Ogunahkin OBE,chief executive of Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) commented on the following topics:
On the 2016 Autumn Statement – "The Chancellor’s statement today was made in the context of some difficult economic headwinds, so this must be borne in mind when looking at the announcements. That said, there was still a lot to interest the infrastructure sector, which did better than other areas. We must now await the detail and small print that will emerge over the coming days and will give a better picture of exactly what the Chancellor announced."
On Investments in Infrastructure – "We are pleased that the government is finally committing to a set target in terms of investment in infrastructure as a percentage of GDP. This will give the sector the certainty it needs, through a National Infrastructure Assessment formulated with stable funding promised. We must not get carried away though, this number is still lower than many of our competitors and ACE and its members would like to see it increase in the years ahead."
On the Housing announcements – "Obviously, the extra funds are welcome announcements, and a fund to assist in the development of infrastructure that unlocks housing will be useful. We await, however, the much-promised and much-delayed government white paper on housing. Only then will we see the strategy that the government is proposing to fill the housing gap the UK is experiencing."
On Road announcements – "While an extra £1.3bn sounds a lot, and will be welcome by local authorities, it still only represents 0.08% of GDP, while estimates suggest there is a backlog of almost £12bn in road maintenance. We need a step change in how our roads are funded and maintained, and the government must recognise this if our network is to go anyway towards addressing the productivity gap from which the UK suffers."
On the Rail announcements – "The extra money for digital signalling will see some benefits, however, it pales in comparison to the announcements earlier this week that parts of the electrification programme are being rolled back. We encourage the government to think again on this, and ensure our rail infrastructure is fit for a 21st century purpose, and not continuing to fall behind our competitors.”
On Broadband – "A series of measures to improve Britain’s broadband network is also welcome, though questions could be asked about whether the investment goes far enough. A £1bn boost that will result in increased broadband speeds in 2m homes and businesses, particularly benefitting the SME section of the economy. Context of progress elsewhere is important, however, with BT Openreach pledging £6bn infrastructure spending, while competing high-tech economies such as Japan and South Korea are thought to be well ahead of UK progress in this area.”
On the East-West corridor announcement – “ACE welcomes the government’s commitment to the new East-West, which will improve the links between some of the UK’s premier university and technology centres. This follows an investigation by the National Infrastructure Commission, and demonstrates the value of the body as a repository of expert knowledge and guidance. We look forward to working with the NIC in the coming years as it seeks to contribute the facts to the debate over infrastructure.”
On the R&D Funding announcement – “ACE welcomes the Chancellor’s commitment to R&D in his spending plans, especially in areas such as housing, science and innovation, transport and broadband which total £15bn in spending to 2022. It will be important for engineering companies and academic researchers to lay claim to much of this spending as capital spent on more efficient infrastructure benefits the country as a whole and would contribute towards the government’s forthcoming industrial strategy.”