10 Mar Budget Statement: More Infrastructure Investment to Boost Productivity

In a budget short on surprises, the Chancellor Phillip Hammond built on the messages from the November Statement with further spending commitments on transport, energy and technology infrastructure.

 

Infrastructure Investment to Boost ProductivityIn his budget speech, Hammond noted that the only sustainable way to raise living standards is to improve the UK’s productivity growth.

He highlighted that the UK lies behind Germany in productivity growth and behind the G7 average and the gap is not closing.

A key element to raising productivity is the £23 billion of infrastructure innovation investment announced in the Autumn Statement in November 2016, as part of the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF), states the Budget document.

In November, £27 million was allocated to the development of an expressway connecting Oxford and Cambridge.

He has now allocated a further “£90 million for the North and £23 million for the Midlands from a £220 million fund that addresses pinch points on the national road network” from the fund.

The Department for Transport will shortly announce details of the individual schemes.

The Budget will see £690 million competitively allocated to local authorities to get local transport networks moving, while £490 million will be made available early in autumn 2017.

The Midlands engine strategy is a key part of the programme. The government will invest £392m in the Midlands from the Local Growth Fund, on top of £1.5bn it has already put in. The cash will support projects including creating a global hub for space technology in Leicester and will also be spent on transport improvements, including £25m to tackle congestion and improve major employment sites in the Black Country and £12m to improve road connections around Loughborough.

Hammond said NPIF allocations have already been made for 2017-18, supporting local projects like improvements in Blackpool town centre, improving the A483 corridor in Cheshire, major maintenance of the Leicester outer ring road, and a new roundabout at Hales in Norfolk. He said £690m more will be competitively allocated to local authorities, with £490m made available by early autumn 2017.

Complementing the NPIF programmes, the Chancellor said a new Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF) will be launched in spring 2017. Government investment of £400m will be at least matched by private sector investors and will accelerate the deployment of full-fibre networks by providing developers with greater access to commercial finance.

The roll out of these projects later this year and into next signals a significant gear change for subsurface excavation, tunnelling and ducting for roads and fibre networks. Each of these will have their own unique challenges with on site management, including past contaminants, dewatering and mitigating groundwater impacts.

We look forward to playing a key role within consortia to deliver value to our clients as they roll out these essential projects to kick start the nation’s productivity.

For more information on how ESI Consulting provides expert hydrogeological and geotechnical support on a wide range of transport and infrastructure projects, contact us on 01743 276100 or email info@esi-consulting.co.uk