The Civil Engineering Contractors Association is calling on the Chancellor to earmark £600 million in his upcoming budget for roads repair and maintenance over the next two years in an attempt to improve workloads and save jobs in the sector.
The association has written to Alistair Darling claiming there is a backlog of work, locally and nationally, that could be “undertaken almost immediately” and dramatically improve workload for the struggling industry.
The letter states: “At the time of the pre-budget report, £1 billion was pledged for major transport projects to stimulate the economy by accelerating Government plans to cut congestion and significantly increase rail capacity. We believe at most £400 million of this will be delivered on construction of transport projects in 2009 with an additional £300 million spent on new rolling stock.
“Ceca would urge you to immediately redirect the remaining £300 million, if it cannot be spent in 2009, into repair and maintenance spending on roads with an additional £300 million to be put forward in 2010 to make up the future shortfall.”
The body has also urged the Government to consider taking “radical steps” to address the slump in the housing and property market.
A workload trends survey has shown that the preliminary works sector – providing the infrastructure for housing, commercial and industrial developments – has dropped from being its members most buoyant type of work, to the least, in little over a year.
A survey of Ceca’s SME members last November forecast that 17 per cent of the workforce might be made redundant by the end of March.
The survey will be run again next month to establish the ongoing impact of the downturn.
The plea for assistance in increasing the sector’s workload is one of a number of demands being put to the Chancellor by the group.
Mr Darling’s budget has been delayed this year until after the G20 meeting in London next week.
The budget, which will be handed down on 22 April, is expected to contain a range of measures to boost the economy and significant revisions to the economic forecasts in last Novermber’s pre-budget report.