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Contractors World  - UK & Ireland
2012 Vol 2 No 9
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Construction Remains Key to Growth

Construction activity remains a key plank in the government’s growth strategy according to the Chancellor, who outlined several initiatives in his Autumn Statement, which he hopes will help stimulate the recovery the economy desperately needs.

The Chancellor also recognised the need to divert current expenditure savings into capital investment and announced an additional £5 billion investment over three years; however there is little evidence that this will have much impact, as the industry is currently contracting by more than double that amount every year.

Chief Executive, Diana Montgomery

Responding to this announcement, the Association’s Chief Executive, Diana Montgomery said: "The Chancellor clearly recognises the need to stimulate growth through construction activity and has made several announcements that are a step in the right direction.

However if you put these announcements into context, the benefits to our sector are less clear. Throughout this year, construction has been contracting by £1 billion each month, so his announcement that there will be an additional £5 billion added to the capital budget over three years, will do very little to offset the losses we are already experiencing, especially as that £5 billion is not just for construction but includes IT, exports and skills.

"Although the Autumn Statement included a number of re-announcements we do welcome the emphasis on road maintenance and repair which will benefit from £725 million from April next year. This was something we called for in our letter to the Chancellor last month and we are pleased he has heeded our request.

"It is also very welcome that UKTI will have its budget increased by 25 per cent. Export activity to both existing and emerging markets must play an increasingly important role for the country over the coming years and this increase is an important recognition that the government is serious about supporting UK companies in their drive to succeed in new markets abroad."

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Flood Relief Funding

Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Flooding Expert, David Balmforth

Commenting on the announcement from HMT of an additional £120 million to boost flood defences and growth – Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Flooding Expert, David Balmforth (top), said:

"The additional £120mn funding is a positive step, but does not make up for the reduction in flood risk management funding following the cuts in 2010.

"The phased funding approach will also mean the full £120mn will not be available for some time, which will be a disappointment to those with homes and businesses still at risk. In the meantime, this funding must be complemented by continued support to lead local authorities in their new flood risk responsibilities and enabling communities at risk to become more flood resilient."

"Government should also proceed with caution when it comes to developing in areas of significant flood risk. The intention to target some of the investment on areas that will generate economic return is welcome, but building homes that aren"t sufficiently flood resilient in areas already at risk of flooding, could lead to long term consequences. New development should not increase the risk of flooding either locally or elsewhere."

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Funding for Repair & Maintenance Work

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) has welcomed news in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement that the government plans an extra £333 million investment in the essential maintenance of the UK’s national and local road network to renew, repair and extend the life of the country’s roads.

Commenting, CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner said: "This is both a welcome fillip for CECA members, who have endured an annus horribilis in 2012, and good news for the wider economy.

"CECA has been campaigning on the need for investment in repair and maintenance works for some time as the best means of giving the economy a shot in the arm to achieve growth.
"The UK’s roads are in dire need of upgrading, for the benefit of all road users, from businesses to the wider public.

"In addition, this money will provide work in the infrastructure sector which can be implemented without delay. We have long argued that infrastructure spending offers the best rate of return on public investment, and the quickest means of achieving growth in the economy.

"If the UK is to return to sustainable economic growth after years of economic uncertainty, it is vital that the nation’s infrastructure is upgraded to meet the country’s needs."

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