Opinion: Osborne in the last chancellor saloon

Grant Prior 11 years ago
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The industry has no real option but to trust George Osborne when it comes to promises made in the Autumn Statement.

But his track record hardly inspires confidence following a series of previous spending announcements which have delivered very little on the ground for contractors.

The Chancellor is in danger of becoming the boy who cried wolf rather than a fiscal superhero rescuing the UK from its debt mountain.

Yesterday’s £5bn extra for infrastructure and schools sounds exactly the shot-in-the-arm the construction industry is crying out for.

But the same figure was trumpeted in 2011 with only £750m of that cash materialising during the last year.

Let’s hope that Osborne is serious this time as a rapidly approaching general election concentrates his mind on really stimulating the economy.

The penny finally seems to have dropped on switching current account public spending into the capital investment pot.

But why has it taken a Tory chancellor so long to realise that cash is better spent on infrastructure than keeping benefit increases above inflation?

The road building industry is the biggest beneficiary with an extra £1bn on schemes alongside a clear timetable.

The first UK Guaranteed loan of £1bn for a major infrastructure project to extend the London Underground Northern Line to the £8bn Battersea Power Station development was another step in the right direction.

But when the industry is seeing orders drop by £1bn a month it is vital more schemes are hurried through.

The house building industry – which can mobilise and create jobs the fastest – had nothing to cheer about.

While the green building sector must wonder what it has done wrong to go from teacher’s pet to the dunce’s corner in such a short space of time.

The reform of PFI will be a major win for construction as long as changes are implemented quickly and don’t get bogged down in bureaucracy.

We’ve been let down by Chancellors before when it comes to spending pledges.

We can all only hope that Osborne really does put his money where his mouth is this time.

 

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