Perfect Circle chairman reacts to March 2020 Budget: 'Infrastructure spend welcome news for construction industry'
Our chairman Jon Enever has reacted to Boris Johnson’s government’s first Budget, responding to the Chancellor’s promise to raise infrastructure spending to its highest level in decades.
“The build up to this year’s Budget has been fairly unique. Not only is this the first major financial statement since the UK’s departure from the European Union, but the country is in the midst of a global health scare and new Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been in Number 11 for less than a month.
“Mr Sunak’s Budget has pledged to spend £600bn on infrastructure projects throughout the UK between 2020 and 2025 – an encouraging sign that the government is set to follow through with its manifesto pledge to invest heavily in the country’s infrastructure, and comes on the same day that ONS figures show a 1.4% increase in construction output in the three months to January 2020.
“Only time will tell if this can be realised. In order to deliver such an ambitious programme, the government needs to ensure it provides more detail as to how this will be delivered, while ensuring the construction sector has the skills, capacity and financial robustness to deliver.
“Perfect Circle has a strong record of working on major infrastructure schemes, including our ongoing work on the vital £124 major highways programme in Wokingham. The government’s promise today to spend £27bn for the development of 4,000 miles of UK roads will be a major boost, particularly to those living in small market towns like Wokingham and rural areas that desperately need this investment.
“An additional £2.5bn fund to fix potholes and resurface roads over five years will be welcome news to drivers. The government needs to ensure that this funding has adequate regional allocation.
“Rail infrastructure does and will increasingly play a vital role in the everyday life of millions of Britons across the country. The Chancellor’s announcement of a £20bn investment into the Midlands Rail Hub project will come as welcome news for both commuters and investors.
“The government’s announcement of a £5.2bn fund on improving flood defences is set to benefit 360,000 homes and businesses across the UK. Flooding has already had a devastating effect on hundreds of thousands of properties across the country. By investing in our flood defences, infrastructure in areas most at risk can provide a much-needed relief to those that have been so badly affected by the flooding. The devil will, of course, be in the detail, to ensure that the investment is able to prove sufficient against changing weather conditions.
“Many brownfield sites offer potentially attractive redevelopment opportunities, so it is pleasing to see £400 million being given to pro-development councils and mayors as an incentive to revitalise these derelict sites. On top of unlocking more land for much-needed housing, this decision should entice more developers to invest in working on these sites, bringing more jobs and opportunities for the local supply chain.
“On top of this, a further £4.2bn from 2022-23 will be made available for eight combined mayoral authorities across the north of England, supporting its Northern Powerhouse programme. This fund will enable elected mayors to put forward ambitious infrastructure plans for their respective cities. By having more powers at their disposal, we hope to see more schemes receiving funding and going to planning stages. It is our hope to work closely with the local supply chain and authorities in these regions to deliver these vital schemes.
“This detail on infrastructure spend is welcome news for those in construction following the delay to the publication of the government’s national infrastructure strategy, which was set out in the 2019 Conservative manifesto. This initiative should see a further £100bn of funding for improvements to both roads and local road networks, as well as the continuation of the Northern Powerhouse rail project. We look forward to the announcement of how these plans will work later in the year.”