Opinion: More talk and still no action from groundhog Govt

Grant Prior 12 years ago
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It’s groundhog day again as the Government launches yet another talking shop to try and boost investment in the country’s infrastructure.

Party conference season means politicians have lots of empty headlines to fill – but no new ideas.

You don’t have to be a fan of the Thick of It to imagine the goings-on in Whitehall as conference season approaches.

The latest initiative from Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander is to set up the National Infrastructure Plan Strategic Engagement Forum.

This brings together Government and construction trade bodies and is being welcomed as a major step forward in delivering infrastructure projects.

But more jaundiced industry viewers could view this as yet another talking shop to divert attention from the fact that nothing is actually happening on the ground.

Even more cynical observers could see it as a way of shifting blame on to the industry if progress is slow by inviting them into the decision making process.

New work is not starting and politicians are simply fiddling while the construction industry’s order books burn.

The paralysis over changing PFI is another prime example of Government dithering where real action is needed.

A revamp of the system was announced when the coalition came into power.

And now more than two years later we are still waiting for confirmation of those changes.

The latest rumours are that “new PFI” will limp out in the coming weeks with no noticeable difference on the construction side of things.

That means a whole industry has been kept in limbo for crossing out a few lines in maintenance contracts.

This Government is getting flak from all sides for being reactive rather than sticking to its guns and trying to lead this country out of recession.

That pattern is evident in its construction policy where we need less talk and more leadership.

The UK needs new infrastructure and there is plenty of spare capacity in the industry to build it and pension funds looking for new investment streams.

Politicians are elected to solve problems so it’s about time they got on with marrying funding with projects and helped kick-start a construction recovery.

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