CBI and Aecom report that 80% of firms surveyed voiced dissatisfaction with the government’s delivery of infrastructure

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Businesses and the public are losing confidence in the government’s infrastructure plans, according to the latest survey by the CBI and consultant Aecom.

Nearly three quarters (74%) of the 727 businesses surveyed doubt infrastructure will improve during this Parliament and 80% are dissatisfied with the pace of delivery.

Firms attributed this lack of confidence to a lack of consistency in the government’s policy (94%) and to political risk (86%).

The public, included for the first time in the survey, echoed the concerns of businesses with only 26% of the 1,668 adults surveyed satisfied with the delivery of infrastructure schemes.

Transport providers admitted to dissatisfaction with the delivery and policy in regards to rail (61%) and road (50%) infrastructure, although only 37% voiced dissatisfaction with the government’s progress on aviation.

Over 90% of the firms surveyed said the delivery of the current Road Investment Strategy should be the top priority for the government, followed by improvements to local road networks (88%) and the delivery of the current rail enhancement programme, CP5 (88%).

Confidence in the government’s housing strategy from businesses is also low with over four fifths (88%) expecting it to fail in delivering the proposals made in this year’s Housing White Paper.

The setting out of an investment framework in energy post 2020 is also considered important by nearly 100% of the firms surveyed.

Firms also cited access to skills and talent as a top priority as the UK leaves the European Union, while almost two thirds (62%) not confident in the UK’s competitiveness increasing by 2030 due to the country’s infrastructure and skills shortages.

Improvements in rail and road access to ports and airports were considered critical by 45% of companies to enable the UK to capitalise on a new free trade opportunities, but infrastructure accounts for 47% of European Investment Bank investments in the UK, so confidence is low that post-Brexit infrastructure such as roads will receive the funding it needs in the future.

CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said: “This is no time for discussion and delays, it’s time for delivery. This needs to be heard not just by Westminster, but by local and devolved governments, as making progress on smaller, local projects is just as important as the bigger projects. Firms will not be forgiving if this focus slips.

“With continuing uncertainty over Brexit, it’s all the more important the government delivers quality infrastructure as a key pillar of a modern and effective Industrial Strategy, from excellent quality gateways to the world to a funding framework that gives investors the sustained confidence they need. It is a vital lever for spreading prosperity across the whole of the UK.

Richard Robinson, chief executive for civil infrastructure in Europe, Middle East, India and Africa at Aecom, added: “Given the strong correlation between infrastructure investment and economic growth, it is hardly surprising that when infrastructure decisions are delayed, it is UK business that feels the pain.

“Indeed, the overriding message from business and the public in this year’s survey is clear: more needs to be done to raise confidence and up the pace in which infrastructure is delivered. Now is the time to provide clarity around infrastructure investment and accelerate action.”