A fifth of companies see government infrastructure policy as damaging © 123RF
A fifth of companies see government infrastructure policy as damaging © 123RF

Firms less optimistic on UK infrastructure

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
7 November 2016

Less than half of UK firms believe the country’s infrastructure has improved over the past five years, according to a survey.

The 2016 CBI/AECOM Infrastructure Survey found 44% of companies thought infrastructure had improved while almost a quarter thought it had deteriorated. Just 27% think infrastructure will improve in the next decade, down on 43% in the 2015 poll.

Meanwhile, 42% thought policies undertaken in this parliament have had a positive impact, while more than a fifth saw them as damaging.

Almost two thirds of respondents felt the UK was unlikely to be more internationally competitive in 2050 that it is now.

“With the UK currently ranked 24th in the world for the quality of its infrastructure, this indicates that the government still has some way to go in setting out a vision that inspires business confidence,” said the report.

The work programmes Control Period 5 (CP5), a £38bn investment in the rail network, and the £15bn Road Investment Strategy (RIS) were considered the most important, followed closely by new runway capacity.

However, almost three quarters of the 728 firms surveyed were not confident a new runway will be built in the South East and a similar proportion of rail infrastructure providers were not convinced Network Rail can deliver CP5. Some 71 of providers were not confident in Highways England’s ability to deliver the RIS.

Concerning energy, two thirds of firms were confident about security of supply for this parliament but only 27% felt the government will take steps to improve the longer-term outlook. More than eight in 10 firms doubt the UK will be able to meet the requirements of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Three quarters of firms thought digital networks had improved in the last five years and more than half expected them to improve further in the next five years, but a third said their current broadband did not meet their needs.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said: “Infrastructure is a key driver of productivity and living standards. Day in, day out, Britain’s businesses rely on our roads, railways and runways to move their goods, services and people up and down the country. Firms give the government a good report card on infrastructure, and are pleased with its commitment in recent years to put infrastructure at the heart of its long-term economic agenda.

“But announcements and commitments are one thing. Seeing tarmac, tracks, and super-fast internet cables being laid is another. It isn’t right that nearly one in two firms are dissatisfied with their region’s infrastructure, or that confidence in the future is running low, especially when it comes to delivery, the key piece of the infrastructure puzzle.”

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