By Claire West
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and a delegation of regional Chambers met with Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, this week and reinforced the importance of maintaining capital infrastructure spending in October's spending review.
The Chancellor recently stated that the UK cannot return to the mistakes of the past when capital spending was cut to the detriment of longer-term growth. Agreeing with that view, Chamber representatives encouraged the Chief Secretary to ensure that the transport capital budget does not succumb to the short-term thinking of the past that could threaten the UK's long-term economic prospects.
Presenting a map of twelve regional transport priorities, the business delegation outlined the transport projects that are key to unlocking economic growth over the next decade. This powerful package of road and rail improvements will deliver economic benefits worth around three times their cost. Chambers of Commerce are urging the Coalition Government not to ignore these vital upgrades in order for the UK to sustain a full economic recovery.
Leading the delegation, Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said:
"We simply cannot afford to fall behind our competitors, a real possibility if projects like Crossrail, the Northern Hub or upgrades to the East Coast Mainline were to be mothballed. The business community understands the need for restraint to reduce the deficit, however we must be careful not to cut those projects that will create jobs and at the same time generate revenue. This would not only hamper the recovery, it would undermine our future competitiveness."
Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the BCC, added:
"Cuts to transport infrastructure must not become a politically convenient way to slash spending. A government focused on the UK's future economic success must do everything it can to protect investment in priority transport projects. These infrastructure improvements will not only unlock much needed economic growth, but will also help the hard-pressed UK construction sector and local businesses in the supply chain.
"Public resources are constrained, of course we understand that, but cutting or scrapping plans for regional transport improvements means fewer jobs, and ultimately fewer businesses driving recovery."