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CN briefing: quantitative easing, national infrastructure pipeline, KPMG and the spending review

Jeremy Corbyn’s attempt to break the world record for consecutive days in which one politician can hog the front pages appears to have ended in failure.

The Labour leader has been displaced on the front pages today by tales of high jinks (which some have already dismissed as porkers).

But at Construction News, we’re not letting the Labour leader off the hook that easily and have this week been looking into Mr Corbyn’s plans for ‘people’s quantitative easing’ to fund infrastructure.

In Charlie Schouten’s analysis, to be published online tomorrow, Arcadis head of strategic research and Construction Leadership Council member Simon Rawlinson explains that there is probably a simpler solution when it comes to a long-term fix for the construction industry.

“Rather than a short-term injection of ‘printed money’ the industry really needs long-term predictable demand for large slices of workload associated with housing, transport and energy,” he says.

This makes sense, and let’s face it is nothing the government hasn’t heard before (though it’s reassuring to know Mr Rawlinson will no doubt be banging that drum in CLC meetings).

But when you raise the question of long-term, stable work pipelines with the leaders of government including the PM himself, they tend to point you in the direction of the National Infrastructure Pipeline

The NIP has provoked fierce debate over the years from national infrastructure pipelines sceptics (I’m calling them ‘NIPs’). Was it well-intentioned? Unquestionably. But several senior sources have told me they no longer refer to the NIP with anything more than passing interest, with many taking the line that it’s simply a ‘wishlist’.

But the folks over at KPMG reckon that ahead of the Spending Review in November, government officials aren’t even confident enough to wish for certain projects, with some having been removed before they [possibly] get canned.

Their analysis indicates that the August 2015 NIP showed a decrease of 886 construction and infrastructure projects on the December 2014 pipeline (from 3,148 to 2,262 in August 2015).

As well as projects being completed and thus no longer listed, KPMG believes this decrease is due to potential projects being “removed from the pipeline to avoid pre-empting decisions in the forthcoming Spending Review”.

In order to be genuinely useful, the NIP data needs to be of better quality or, will remain in the eyes of many a bit of a ham-fisted attempt to provide genuine insight into the long-term needs of industry.

Got 5 minutes?

Balfour Beatty and Carillion have got it right this time. The JV has won the third phase of the £1.3bn A14 upgrade programme at the second time of asking.

Did you miss this?

A must read CN analysis on industry’s performance, analysing the entire industry’s performance in areas including completing projects on time and budget, diversity, staff retention and environmental performance.

What should you be doing on 3 & 4 November?

Joining Andrew Neil, a stellar list of clients, contractors, the entire CN team and more at the construction industry’s premier conference.


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