Civils firms call for council-led priority projects stimulus

Aaron Morby 10 years ago

Civil engineering contractors have called on Government to free local councils to set out priority projects programmes to deliver an urgent boost for the economy.

The call to release smaller, shovel-ready projects came as the latest trade survey showed civils workloads and orders in freefall, particularly among roads contractors.

Concerns are running so high that the Civil Engineering Contractors Association has written to Chancellor George Osborne setting out a plan to release small projects to deliver an immediate boost for struggling civils firms.

Civil engineering contractors want to see Government extend its programme of setting out 40 nationally important infrastructure projects and programmes at a local level.

The letter says: “While less strategically important, there are thousands of smaller scale local projects that can provide a boost to the economy if they are allowed to proceed.

“We would like local authorities to identify their infrastructure priorities, and then be provided with the tools to work with the private sector to unlock each project, moving them swiftly towards implementation.”

CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner said: “CECA is calling for action to unlock new activity in the sector. We want the government’s focus on 40 nationally significant projects to be replicated at a local level.

“In particular, there are thousands of smaller scale local projects that have the potential to provide a boost to the economy if they are allowed to proceed.

“If these projects are to fulfil their potential, local authorities must identify the infrastructure priorities in their areas, and be provided with the tools to work with the private sector to unlock each project, moving them swiftly towards implementation.”

CECA recommendations to Chancellor

  • Provide immediate short-term funding to boost shovel-ready repair and maintenance activity;
  • Rebalance infrastructure investment across the UK;
  • Ensure appropriate finance and funding models are in place to meet future investment needs;
  • Develop cross-party consensus on nationally-significant infrastructure policy and a long-term delivery programme.

Findings from the civil engineering workload trends survey in the third quarter showed that workload had declined for the second quarter running with 17% of firms, on balance, reporting falls in activity year-on-year.

According to a fifth of firms, civils order books were lower year-on-year, with the worst-hit companies being those who work on the UK’s roads.

Workloads in motorways and local roads fell in the third quarter with balances of -37% and -50% respectively, These hard-pressed contractors also reported a fall in orders in the quarter of around -45%, on balance.

Cost inflation continues to squeeze contractors’ margins, with 70% of firms, on balance, reporting cost inflation running at up to 5%.


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