By Daniel Hunter

Ahead of today’s (Wednesday) spending round, the CBI reiterated its call for the Chancellor to take urgent steps to bridge the infrastructure investment gap and make the big decisions to protect growth and get a clutch of major projects on the move. Failure to act could place the fledgling recovery at risk.

The UK’s leading business group is calling for short-term action to improve roads and boost house-building, and for long-term infrastructure investment to be kick-started by selecting flagship projects and extending the UK government guarantee scheme.

The CBI believes other areas that can help boost growth should also be prioritised, such as increasing funding levels for the Technology Strategy Board.

“The Chancellor must prioritise areas that could propel a fledgling recovery and infrastructure investment should be in pole position," John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said.

“We need quick and decisive action on the big decisions that will move projects from blueprints to building.

“The Government must bridge the investment gap making sure infrastructure spending is a priority in the years ahead.

“There also needs to be a fresh look at the impact and value of ring-fencing. It cannot be an excuse for poor financial discipline.”

In its submission, the CBI called for:

On protection of infrastructure spending

- The Government to select flagship projects to prioritise — for example, an upgrade of the A14 connecting Felixstowe Port, the M4 relief road and improving surface access to airports
- Cross-party manifesto pledges to accept recommendations of the Davies -Commission on aviation capacity in 2015
- Clarity over the next investment cycle for the Affordable Homes Programme
- An extension of the UK guarantee schemes beyond 2014 to boost private sector investment
- Maintaining focus of Repair, Maintenance and Improvement schemes for roads to bridge the gap before larger projects reach construction.

On other growth boosting measures

- The extension of the Energy Intensive Industries support package which should be linked to the Carbon Price Floor
- Support for maintaining current funding for the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and increasing this if possible, as the TSB has been underfunded to date and is crucial to successfully protect innovation in the UK
- A new skills tax credit to invest in our future workforce and boost productivity
- Continued support for UK Trade and Investment’s budget to boost growing and ambitious UK exporters.

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