Confidence in UK infrastructure declining, warns EEF03 November 2014

Britain's manufacturers are calling on the government toboost to investment in the UK's crumbling road network as part of a package of infrastructure measures in the forthcoming Autumn Statement.

The call was made by EEF, the manufacturers' organisation on the back of a survey showing deteriorating confidence in wide areas of UK infrastructure networks, especially the road system. The survey also showed a continued failure to make significant progress towards creating integrated transport networks, whilst the UK's digital communications networks and energy supply scored poorly.

EEF chief executive, Terry Scuoler, said: "These results highlight widespread concern that the quality of business critical infrastructure is declining rather than improving, with the deterioration of the road network of particular concern.

"Roads are the backbone of the economy and the glue that holds the rest of the transport network together, with four-fifths of manufacturers saying they are critical to their business operations. Similar concerns exist about our energy and digital networks."

He added: "The message from manufacturers to the Chancellor for the remainder of this Parliament is clear, complete the job on vital roads, energy and broadband projects. As far as Industry is concerned these are far more important than redirecting planning resources to new aspirational projects."

According to the survey, more than a third of companies view the motorway and A road network as 'poor' or 'very poor' while almost 40% of companies view their local road network in the same way. Roughly the same number of companies believe both the strategic, and local, road networks have got worse over the last couple of years.

As a result, over two thirds of companies would put investment in the motorway and A road network in their top three priorities (30% their top priority) and almost 40% of companies their local road network (10% their top priority).

The survey also backed EEF's call for a permanent Infrastructure Authority with just under 60% of companies viewing the UK's attempts at integrating different transport networks as 'poor' or 'very poor', while not a single company viewed integrated networks as 'very good'.

Manufacturers also viewed the UK's energy network in a poor light with over a quarter describing the network as 'poor' or 'very poor' with almost 15% of companies believing the situation has got worse in the last two years.

The survey also shows more needs to be done to improve the UK's digital communications networks with 40% of companies viewing the broadband network as 'poor' or 'very poor'. In response, 45% of companies would have investment in the broadband network in their top three priorities (almost 15% their top one).

Ian Vallely

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