Boosting infrastructure in the PBR
The use of this year’s Pre Budget Report (PBR) to bring foward Government spending on large infrastructure projects was trailed so long ago that it feels like old news. Nevertheless, today saw details of those projects announced by the Chancellor.
Most were very worthwhile. Surely no-one (with the possible exception of the Conservatives) will criticise the bringing forward of £800 million in the priority schools capital programme or £100 million to advance the upgrading of up to 600 GP surgeries to training practices.
As with other parts of the PBR, there was a green tinge to some of these announcements, with the acceleration of up to 200 new carriages on the rail network, £200 million on Decent Homes programmes to fund improvements and improve energy efficiency in 24,000 council homes, and £100 million of additional funding for the Warm Front programme.
Money to advance existing plans to increase capacity on motorways and other critical highways doesn’t pass the green test, but there’s an argument to say that if we are to have motorways, let’s have high quality ones.
The TUC welcomes this boost to infrastructure, on its own terms: as part of a fiscal boost to help deal with the recession. We are clear, however, that this package does not replace the need for a modern, intelligent industrial strategy. A long term plan to build skills and industrial strength in high growth, strategic industrial sectors remains a TUC priority and one which will become more important as we reshape the British economy after the recession is over.