21 September 2010 | Helen Gilbert
The Confederation of British Industry is backing work to continue on the Crossrail project and tube upgrades in the run-up to the government’s spending review next month.
In its pre-review submission to the UK Treasury, the business lobby group argued the impact of cuts to tackle the public deficit could be mitigated if priority is given to investing in multi-billion pound infrastructure projects that could stimulate private sector growth.
Crossrail will link west and east London with a partly underground rail service, including a massive re-engineering of Tottenham Court Road tube station.
It is currently in the procurement phase and recently announced the shortlist for the refurbishment of the Connaught Tunnel, a major part of the Abbey Wood branch, and the Pudding Mill Lane Tunnel Portal.
The government announced in the Budget that it would make £32 billion of annual spending reductions by 2014/15.
However, the CBI emphasised the importance of investing in transport infrastructure in particular, claiming this offers high returns and will play a crucial role in boosting domestic and international trade.
John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: “Cutting spending means tough choices. We think that the need for economic growth, not the noise of the loudest voice, should determine where cuts are made.
“The government must improve the efficiency of public services and focus the limited public money available on areas that do most to galvanise growth.”
The CBI flagged up three areas of investment it claims should be prioritised: infrastructure investment, knowledge assets and human capital. It also called for procurement processes to be improved and greater transparency in public service contracts.