The Autumn Statement 2016 is out (23/11) and Chancellor Philip Hammond has laid down his plans on how the government intends to rebalance the books as the deficit widens.
We spoke with APS CEO, Lesley McLeod, who was on hand to give some initial thoughts on the Autumn Statement.
Suggesting that raising productivity is essential for future growth, the government has announced a £23 billion national productivity investment fund to spend on infrastructure and innovation over the next five years. Commuters and infrastructure investors have a reason to be cheerful with a £1.1bn investment pot for transport networks and £220m to relieve congestion on strategic roads.
There are also big changes afoot for Housing. £2.3 billion has been set aside for a new Housing Infrastructure Fund for projects such as roads and water connections that will support the construction of up to 100,000 new homes. There will also be £1.4 billion to build 40,000 new affordable homes and £1.7 billion to speed up the construction of new homes on public sector land. Additionally, an increase in funding for infrastructure projects of more than £800 million for the Scottish Government, £400 million for the Welsh Government and £250 million for the Northern Ireland Executive has been announced for spend relating to infrastructure projects.
While we fully support the government’s aim to improve the nation’s infrastructure by getting things moving on the road, rail and construction projects we understand that safety needs to underpin this movement. It is clearly important for projects to be delivered swiftly and cost effectively but it cannot be a case of more haste at any cost. There is still around a death a week on construction projects and too many people suffer long-term health problems because of their work. Good practice in design and construction health and safety risk management needs to be a natural and holistic part of the process and, by getting it right from the drawing board; we can all look to improved infrastructure without the unnecessary loss of life or ill-health.