Monday, June 24, 2024

Two-thirds of manufacturers think UK infrastructure has worsened | Construction News

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More than two-thirds of manufacturing businesses think the UK’s national infrastructure has deteriorated over the past 10 years, a survey has found.

Companies responding to the questionnaire by manufacturers’ trade body Make UK also said the decaying state of the rail and road networks was holding back their investment and growth.

Some 68 per cent of 150 respondents said that national infrastructure had worsened over the decade, with 57 per cent saying the same about local networks.

Rail and road were seen as the two worst strands of infrastructure in the country.

Nearly half of the manufacturing firms (48 per cent) said they believed poor infrastructure was preventing access to key labour and skills, and 35 per cent said it was slowing down efforts towards decarbonisation.

The findings come weeks after the government scrapped the northern leg of HS2 and said the money would be spent on a range of smaller schemes across the UK instead.

Mike Thornton, national head of manufacturing at accountancy firm RSM, which helped conduct the survey, said: “An effective industrial strategy is necessary for manufacturers to thrive in the UK. A critical part of this plan must focus on infrastructure investment – incorporating both physical and digital networks. Only then will the business environment in the UK meet the needs of industry and employees, and effectively connect people and place together.”

Make UK director of policy Verity Davidge called for a plan to turn the situation around.

“Manufacturers are clear that the UK’s infrastructure is creaking at the seams and is getting worse, with very real impacts on their business,” she said. “The recent announcement on HS2, with no Plan B, was indicative of short-termism and giving up when the job is half-finished.”

Alasdair Reisner, chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, told Construction News that his organisation had long made the economic case for investing in infrastructure.

“As the government loses interest in infrastructure investment, it is pushing the economy in the direction of poor growth. It is not surprising that employers’ bodies in industries such as manufacturing are now sounding the alarm about how this is, and will, impact on their ability to drive growth,” he said.

Last week, government advisory body the National Infrastructure Commission called for a “significant increase” in infrastructure spending from the private and public sectors over the coming decades, and urged greater clarity on policy.

In response to that report, a government spokesperson said: “Delivering high-quality infrastructure is the foundation of our future growth. Our Network North plan will deliver the transport that matters most to people, and we’re adopting a fairer and more pragmatic approach to meeting net zero that supports households and families to make greener choices whilst easing the burdens on working people.

“We are delivering over £600bn of planned public sector investment in infrastructure, R&D [research and development] and defence over the next five years, including an unprecedented package to improve connections in our city regions and billions to decarbonise buildings.”

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