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A £5bn tease

Depending on who you believe, infrastructure spending could be in for a £5bn boost.

After the IMF’s downgrade of the UK economic outlook yesterday, the BBC promptly reported that “cabinet ministers” were discussing a £5bn infrastructure funding injection with a view to stimulating the stalling economy.

Political editor Nick Robinson’s report said transport links, broadband, and housing investment would all serve as a stimulus to ward off possible recession.

But no sooner had his piece gone live than Lib Dem energy secretary Chris Huhne appeared on Newsnight to dismiss the figure, followed this morning by chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander on the Today programme.

The Financial Times is now reporting that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg will use his closing conference speech in Birmingham this afternoon to “commit government to bringing forward growth measures”.
But the Treasury has since categorically told CN there will be no new money.

“Government is committed to developing Britain’s infrastructure but there are no plans to change spending on capital projects so we don’t recognise the figure”, a press officer said.

Whatever comes of the too-ing and fro-ing, one thing is clear; there is a new acknowledgement from politicians that something must be done and it must be done soon.

And whether you believe the BBC or not, there is a fair chance that something might just be infrastructure investment.

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