Department for Infrastructure call

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Britain’s manufacturers have called for the creation of a Government department for infrastructure to overcome decades of political wrangling and poor planning which have left the country in the slow lane.

The EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, is calling for an impartial, non-ministerial department that would identify projects over a 10, 20 and 50-year timescale, with the final decision taken by the Government of the day, underpinned by independent analysis from the new body.

The call comes amid concerns over the UK’s road and energy infrastructure, delays over expanding airport capacity and building high speed rail lines. Surveys show it is a critical issue for 50 per cent of foreign-owned firms and the fourth most important factor for domestic manufacturers behind proximity to customers, labour costs and skills.

Andy Tuscher, Yorkshire and Humberside director at EEF, said: “Political prevarication and policy reversals have left Britain in the slow lane in developing its infrastructure for decades.

“The neglect of our roads, the indecision on expanding airport capacity and the agonising over high speed rail routes connecting our major cities have only served to exacerbate the feeling that Britain’s infrastructure is not geared up to support growth.

“We now have the opportunity to put in place a new independent system that will aid long-term planning.

All political parties need to commit to this in their forthcoming manifestos.

“In a nutshell, a UK Infrastructure Authority would add value by horizon scanning for future challenges, and ensuring debates are backed by trusted analysis.”

According to EEF, the UK lacks the institutional framework to identify, plan and deliver major projects in a streamlined way.