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UK slips down to 13th in Arcadis' Global Built Asset Wealth Index

The UK has fallen to 13th place in this year’s Global Built Asset Wealth Index, and is now behind all other G7 members on built asset wealth per capita, according to research by Arcadis.

According to the report, which measures the value of all buildings and infrastructure that contribute to economic productivity in 32 countries, the UK is now ranked 13th by stock of built assets in US dollars, and is ranked fifth in Europe, after Germany, Italy, France, and Spain.

The UK also has a built asset stock worth only 1.8 times its GDP, which, according to Arcadis, indicates both “efficient use of productive capital”, but also implies that there is potential for GDP to grow further “through further investment” in the built environment.

The report highlights that £150bn will be invested in the UK’s transport and utility infrastructure over the next five to eight years, including HS2, Crossrail 2, airport expansion, and Thames Tideway Tunnel, but calls for greater certainty and clarity from the goverment on these projects, which would “enable socio-economic benefits to be realised”.

However, the report adds that there can be “confidence” that the UK will sustain an efficient built asset to GDP ratio.

Globally, China leads the pack with a built asset stock of $47.6tn, overtaking the US total of $36.8tn (see full table below).

Since 2000, China has made a net investment of $33tn in its built environment - a figure significantly larger than all other economies put together.

Looking forward, the report forecasts that China will increase its lead over other countries substantially, and by 2025, its total asset stock will be more than double that of the US.

The forecasts also suggest that the UK will slip further down the global rankings, and will be overtaken by countries including Indonesia and Saudi Arabia in the global table by 2025.

Arcadis Global Built Asset Wealth Index

  1. China: £30.8tn (+1)
  2. USA: £23.8tn (-1)
  3. Japan: £11.8tn (-)
  4. India: £9.8tn (-)
  5. Germany: £6.6tn (-)
  6. Russia: £5.4tn (+3)
  7. Italy: £5.1tn (-)
  8. France: £5.1tn (-2)
  9. South Korea: £3.9tn (-1)
  10. Brazil: £3.8tn (+3)
  11. Mexico: £3.8tn (+1)
  12. Spain: £3.7tn (-4)
  13. UK: £3.1tn (-2)

Commenting on the report, Arcadis head of UK business advisory Greg Bradley said: “As a mature economy, the UK relies too heavily on its existing infrastructure.

“This poses different challenges to those faced in emerging markets, where the emphasis is on building from scratch. New projects in the UK have to integrate with the infrastructure that is already in place and help deliver better value from it.

“This, in part, explains the UK’s placing on this year’s Index.

“However, the Crossrail Interchange work at Old Oak Common shows how an investable masterplan can bring together multiple stakeholders from the public and private sectors to unlock investment and deliver a project that integrates old and new to meet London’s future transport needs while delivering growth.”

In September last year, research by Arcadis suggested that the UK had become the 10th most attractive economy for infrastructure investment, after it moved up three places in the firm’s Global Infrastructure Investment Index.

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