Chancellor right to focus on infrastructure as driver for UK productivity in spring Budget

ICE Director General Nick Baveystock said the budget showed a strong desire to position the UK as a leading global economy

Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced today that his first budget offered a "strong and stable platform" for the Brexit negotiations to come. In a budget focused on Business Rates relief, Social Care Funding and increasing National Insurance for self-employed people, he singled out infrastructure as critically important to closing the productivity gap.

The Chancellor highlighted that In 2015, UK output per hour stood 18 percentage points behind the average for other G7 countries, 35 percentage points behind Germany, 27 percentage points behind France, and 30 percentage points behind the USA.

With his predecessor, George Osborne having made several infrastructure related announcements in the last budget, this time the focus was on skills and support for the innovation and technology required to deliver it. You can view a summary of the infrastructure related highlights.

Nick Baveystock, ICE Director General said:

"Improving connectivity throughout the UK will drive productivity and balanced economic growth, so the transport spending announcements of £90m for the North and £23m for the Midlands are very positive developments.

"Considered alongside the Modern Industrial Strategy and Digital Strategy, this Budget shows a strong desire to position the UK as a leading global economy, now and in the post-Brexit future. The Chancellor is right to focus on the UK's productivity and in recognising the critical role of infrastructure to meet that challenge. While the Autumn Statement outlined infrastructure investment priorities, the spring Budget now focuses on building the necessary skills and technology to deliver them.

"We are pleased to see further detail on the allocation of the National Productivity Investment Fund with commitments to emerging technologies, 5G and fibre broadband, critical for the UK's economic growth and future prosperity. We also look forward to more detail on technical education reform, including the new T-Levels."

His comments follow an appearance on Sky News where presenter Adam Boulton asked for his take on infrastructure spending priorities. You can view the interview above.