Opinion: £50bn cash boost gives hope to contractors

Grant Prior 11 years ago
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Christmas is traditionally a time of giving.

And George Osborne seems to have finally found his Santa hat with all the signs pointing to a construction cash boost of up to £50bn in the wake of the Autumn Statement.

Confirmation of extra infrastructure and housing spending will be a huge boost for contractors staring at ominously empty order books for 2012 and beyond.

It will also mean an end to an unrelenting diet of bad news as the recovery proved to be a mirage and the industry faced a tough year without help.

Treasury wonks are now busily finding ways of attracting private cash to fund this spending spree while avoiding the financial pitfalls of the previous PFI programme.

Of course most contractors don’t really care where the money comes from – as long as it materialises and is spent on construction work.

But this sudden rush to funnel pension fund and insurance company money into construction does beg the question – why didn’t we do it earlier?

The Government seems to have waited until the ship is full of holes before bailing things out.

The private money due to come forward doesn’t derail the deficit reductions plans so why have we waited so long to use it as a stimulus for the economy?

Interest rates have been on the floor for years now so it’s not as if the pension fund holders haven’t been on the lookout for new investment opportunities.

But let’s not carp too much and just enjoy the fact that construction is now being recognised as a driver of recovery.

Timing is the vital issue with contractors needing help now.

The Autumn statement must deliver real detail on how this money will be filtered into construction projects and a timetable for when contractors will start to feel the benefit.

There are plenty of “shovel ready” projects which could be mobilised within weeks to ensure the future of firms and their workers.

Construction companies have lived through some very dark days recently.

This news gives the whole industry hope and a real chance for the country to build itself out of recession.

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