Opinion: TV debate spells end for capital spending

Grant Prior 12 years ago

Another leadership debate and another 90 minutes dancing around the real issue of planned cuts in public spending.

Last night’s verbal jousting between the three candidates did little to enlighten the industry about where and when the axe will fall post May 6.

But one thing is for sure, the economic landscape will change radically whoever wins power and contractors must change their business models to deal with the new economic reality.

The case for continued investment in infrastructure is economically sound and well argued. Unfortunately that counts for little when politicians are in charge of the purse strings.

All of construction’s compelling arguments about maintaining investment appear to have fallen on deaf ears as the parties play to the gallery by promising to only protect some NHS staff and police on the beat

Cuts will be severe in the education and health building programmes while transport spending could be decimated as any new Government vows to protect frontline services and sacrifice capital investment.

Contractors currently holding long-term framework deals with local authorities must now fear that work will grind to a halt within the next few months.

The over-riding priority of the new Government will be to get the public finances back on an even-keel by whatever means possible.

Britain is unlikely to ever go the way of Greece, but the way all public works were halted overnight is a dire warning of what happens when you bust your budgets.

That’s the bad news. But there is the odd glimmer of hope.

All parties recognise the need for new homes and have spoken about restarting construction of council housing.

But perhaps the biggest chance for the industry lies in the form of a private sector led recovery as the whole country readjusts from its over-reliance on state spending.

There are encouraging signs of a comeback in the private housing market after two years in the doldrums while the commercial market is also showing signs of life.

Our great hope is a return in private sector led construction because the Government’s chequebook will be firmly under lock and key for the next few years.

A detailed look each party’s manifesto for construction can be found at:



Liberal Democrat

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