Consultant’s UK boss says schemes like HS2 vital as private spending dips

WSP’s UK boss has called on the next government to keep ploughing money into infrastructure schemes like HS2 to make up for a shortfall in private sector building.

Mark Naysmith, UK managing director at WSP, told Building: “The important thing for us is that the government, whoever it is that gets in, doesn’t decide to stop and put a hold on public spending in infrastructure because right now that is what is keeping the UK going.

“That’s almost, at the moment, compensating for the slowdown in the private sector,” he added.

Naysmith’s comments came as the political parties began rolling out their election pledges to the British people this week, after the dissolution of Parliament and the official start of the campaign last week.

Theresa May put immigration centre stage on Monday by recommitting the Conservatives to reducing net migration to the “tens of thousands”.

Meanwhile Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told voters his top priority would be housing, with policies to build hundreds of thousands of council homes and to introduce tougher regulation in the private rental sector.

The CBI laid out its demands of the next government on behalf of British business last week, including calls for action on skills, infrastructure, innovation and trade.

The CBI urged the next occupant of Number 10 to immediately guarantee the right to remain for EU citizens working in the UK and confirm a new migration system by the end of this year.

It also called for progress on delivering a third runway at Heathrow and for clear commitment to Crossrail 2 and better connectivity in the regions, including for the Northern Powerhouse.

The CBI’s demands on migration and infrastructure chime with this magazine’s own Building a Better Brexit manifesto, which calls for a fair deal for construction in ongoing Brexit negotiations and which has more than 125 backers, including major firms Aecom, Arcadis, Capita, Mace and Gleeds.

Northern housebuilder Avant Homes made its own call to the political parties last week, calling for “fresh thinking” in the UK housing market and for a greater focus on supporting the sector outside of the South-east.

Naysmith was speaking to Building ahead of WSP rebranding today, as it officially dropped Parsons Brinckerhoff from its name.