Thursday 5 September 2013 8:56 pm

Business groups want action on infrastructure

BUSINESS groups rallied around Sir John Armitt’s call to set out long-term spending on infrastructure yesterday, though the Treasury insisted that it is already making headway on major projects. The former Olympics boss recommended a new independent commission to take the politics out of the long-term oversight of roads, rail and engineering schemes. The British Chambers of Commerce backed the Labour-commissioned report, saying a non-partisan panel of experts “could help end what we call ‘Stop-Start’ Britain, and promote greater business investment”. And Richard Threlfall, KPMG’s head of infrastructure, building and construction, noted that a group operating outside the normal five-year political cycle could create certainty around infrastructure that may help attract private cash. “Only with the clarity of a long-term infrastructure plan will we unlock the more than £40bn per annum of public and private money the UK needs to invest in its infrastructure to remain competitive in the global economy,” he said in a statement. A Treasury spokesperson said yesterday that the government has already made good progress on infrastructure spending, setting aside £100bn for specific projects and bringing in another Olympics alumnus, Lord Deighton, to ensure the plans are delivered. “We have made infrastructure a top priority, despite a challenging economic climate, setting out a strategy for infrastructure in the next parliament and beyond,” the spokesperson said. “We are getting on with vital plans to develop our road network, protect homes with new flood defences, and invest more on rail than since Victorian times.”