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Budget 2011: Chancellor must clearly set out investment plans, warns UKCG

The UK Contractors Group has called on the Chancellor to clearly set out plans for public sector infrastructure spending, warning that construction needs “a much clearer understanding” of planned investment.

In its Budget submission, the UKCG says it has been very difficult to obtain definite information on investment plans from a number of key public sector clients, despite George Osborne clearly setting out the government’s intentions on public sector capital investment in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The trade body suggests there appears to be some “deliberate attempts to delay decisions and to obfuscate on forward plans”.

“A prime example of this is the future of the school building programme,” the letter says. “The Sebastian James review was originally scheduled to report to ministers before Christmas.  In March, we are still waiting for the Department for Education to signal its intentions. 

“Equally on energy supply, the industry stands ready to support the enormous amount of investment needed but to deliver this support effectively and efficiently we need a much clearer understanding of the future programme.”

The UKCG also calls on the Chancellor to protect planned spending on infrastructure and, as the economy moves out of recession, to begin to invest more.

On the issue of procurement, the trade body says it would be helpful to have a clear statement from government that it does not intend to abandon the good work already done to improve the process.

The final issue addressed in the submission is PFI. The UKCG says, contrary to press reports, contractors have not made huge profits on PFI schemes and the vast majority of projects are delivering value for money.

“Given the state of the Exchequer we need to continue to find ways of using private money,” the letter says. “We therefore want to work with you to help find new solutions which will be palatable to the government and to investors and draw on lessons learned abroad.”

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