Our Account Executive Eden Musyoki explores the announcements affecting the UK infrastructure sector in Chancellor Sajid Javid’s spending review

On Wednesday 4 September 2019, the Chancellor of the Exchequer outlined the government’s spending plans for 2020-21 in a statement that at times focused as much on Brexit and party politics as on the planned forecast of government spending.

Javid opened by announcing an ‘end of austerity’ with a 4.1% increase (worth £13.8 bn) in public spending, the biggest we’ve seen for 17 years. But what does this statement mean for infrastructure and development in the UK?

In his speech, he stated that rebuilding the UK’s national infrastructure was the first priority of this new economic plan. He also admitted that in the past, UK governments have underinvested in infrastructure and this has meant that we’ve fallen behind other countries in developing quality and reliable infrastructure.

Faster broadband, cheaper fuel bills, cleaner energy and greener transport were all identified as priorities to be brought forward by the infrastructure sector to help improve the way people live, work and travel in the UK.

This strategic and carefully planned ‘infrastructure revolution’ will be underpinned by strong institutions like the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), who will be relied on for their expertise. The NIC previously brought forward the first ever National Infrastructure Assesment; chair Sir John Armitt has insisted that the Assessment’s recommendations must be followed through in autumn’s National Infrastructure Strategy repeatedly referenced by Javid during the review.

Other key headlines were a £200m investment in bus services (championed by Javid, a son of a former bus driver), £500m to boost Birmingham’s delivery of the 2022 Commonwealth Games and £30m to develop decarbonisation schemes to meet 2050 net zero targets.

Overall, the Chancellor’s statement mirrors the growth in recognition of the value of infrastructure investment and highlights how the sector is developing positively in the UK, despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

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