Here are some possible scenarios in a hung parliament but first the certainties:
- Whoever wins, there is going to be a time of policy review which will result in many Government capital projects being delayed for a few months until priorities are reset
- One of the first jobs for the new Government will be to provide clarity around their plans to reduce the deficit and so the public and construction sectors should brace themselves for some tough decisions
- Overall, we’re likely to see less capital expenditure across the board, but an even stronger desire to improve the efficiency and returns on existing Government built assets in order to protect front line services but deliver savings
Scenario 1 : Conservative win
- Overall strategy - the Tory vision of ‘Big Society’ rather than ‘Big Government’ will take some time to bed down, but expect far fewer big, national built asset projects and more smaller, locally run projects.
- Government spending - the Tories have committed to an immediate spending review and delivery of £6bn in spending cuts in 2010, so expect big cuts to be announced sooner rather than later. A flash budget in the next six weeks is one to look out for when many of these cuts will be announced.
- Education – any new schools would be funded through Whitehall as local parent groups are empowered to set up their own schools. We’ll see the end of mass new school builds, and more local schemes.
- Health – health has been ring fenced from spending cuts, and the policy is to increase spending. However there is likely to be a drive to utilise buildings and space more efficiently to free up budget for frontline health spending.
- Housing – scrap house building targets, but introduce Local Housing for communities to decide local housing need. Making homes more efficient will also feature.
- Local Authorities – responsibility for planning will be localised to councils rather than a wider regional planning tier, again we’ll see more local, less national or regional decision making on built assets.
Scenario 2 – Hung Parliament – Conservative/ LibDem coalition
- Overall strategy – a hung Parliament will lead to a longer delay in policy decisions, and so savings will be made as major spending is deferred. Many of the Conservatives’ big ideas are likely to come to the fore, but with some of the LibDems policies being pushed through, such as electoral reform.
- Government spending – it is likely that the Conservative spending plan would be the main driver, but with Vince Cable as the Chancellor to announce and drive it.
- Education – there has been some disagreement here with the LibDems accusing the Conservatives of wanting to reduce capital spending on schools.
- Health, Housing and Local Authorities – as Conservative above, but green housing could well become a bigger priority as one of the areas that both parties agree on.
Scenario 3 – Hung Parliament – Labour/ LibDem coalition
- Overall strategy – a hung Parliament will lead to a longer delay in policy decisions, and so savings will be made as major spending is deferred. A Lab/ LibDem alliance would be likely to take longer to bed down as there is the prospect of Brown standing down as Labour leader leaving a vacuum to fill by Labour’s next generation such as David Miliband or Ed Balls.
- Government spending – the Government’s current spending plans are likely to remain with spending cuts made next year.
- Education – protected as a frontline service, but no plans for major new build. Expect drive to make efficiency savings on existing build.
- Health – protected as a frontline service, but the focus will be on delivering efficiencies, so built assets will be important in delivering that.
- Housing – £7.5bn investment to build 110,000 affordable homes will remain. Sustainable and carbon free homes will be on the agenda with 2015 target for all new homes to meet this standard.
- Local Authorities – there will be a review of local authority spending, and the potential for more cities to elect a London style mayor who would have decision making over local property development and planning.