Industry responds to Spending Round 2019
MPA and AIA welcome Chancellor’s statement on infrastructure but call for greater delivery on the ground
RESPONDING to the Chancellor’s Spending Round 2019 statement to Parliament today, both the Mineral Products Association (MPA) and the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) have welcomed the Government’s acknowledgement of the importance of infrastructure investment but warned that there needs to be more delivery on the ground.
In his statement, the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, claimed the first priority of the Government’s new economic plan would be to rebuild national infrastructure. ‘High-quality and reliable infrastructure is essential to how we live, work and travel,' he said, 'but the truth is that across many decades, governments of all colours have under-invested in infrastructure.
‘We’re the world’s fifth largest economy. It isn’t good enough that we’re so far behind on infrastructure. We’re going to change that. From the motor highway to the information highway…we’ll settle for nothing less than an infrastructure revolution. We’ll bring forward detailed plans at Budget later this year alongside an ambitious strategy for this new investment.'
In response, Jerry McLaughlin, executive director of economics and public affairs at the Mineral Products Association, said: ‘The MPA welcomes the Chancellor’s statement that ‘rebuilding national infrastructure’ is his number one economic priority, but we remain frustrated that such positive statements over a number of years are still not leading to fast enough project delivery on the ground.
‘MPA members supply the bulk of materials used in construction and infrastructure development but industry sales volumes have stalled and are in danger of going backwards. There seems to be an inverse relationship between high-profile political statements of support for infrastructure and what is actually happening on the ground.
'Whilst looking forward to the new National Infrastructure Strategy later in 2019, it is disappointing that the Chancellor has missed an opportunity to embed additional funding to allow local authorities to start addressing the £10 billion backlog of local road disrepair in the spending plans for 2020/21.’
In a similar vein, Rick Green, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, said it was good to hear the Chancellor acknowledge the importance of infrastructure investment in his statement and the AIA hoped that funding for local roads would be prioritized by the Government when more details are shared later this Autumn.
‘Every journey starts or ends on a local road and they make up 98% of the road network. We rely on them every day for the distribution of goods and services and to get to work, school and hospital appointments, but our Annual Local authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) Survey 2019 reported that the backlog of repairs is now £9.8 billion,’ said Mr Green.
‘A long-term approach is needed to support this vital part of our infrastructure – a view supported by the Transport Select Committee’s recent report on local roads funding and maintenance. We believe that an extra £1.5 billion per year, for 10 years, is needed to bring road conditions up to a level from which they can be maintained cost-effectively going forward.’