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CPA welcomes government focus on infrastructure

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World Cement,

Responding to the Autumn Statement, Dr Diana Montgomery, Chief Executive of the Construction Products Association (CPA), said: “The most important element of the Statement for the construction industry was the ‘National Infrastructure Plan 2014’. Construction is an enabler of UK economic growth, and that is never more evident than in the delivery of the new infrastructure the country needs for the 21st century.

“Taken together, with the handful of marginal but welcomed additional measures in the Autumn Statement itself, we are optimistic that the government’s actions this week will improve the construction industry’s recovery, increase our members’ confidence and strengthen the case to invest in the UK.

“We were encouraged by the announcements of a £15 billion Road Investment Strategy. The road-building plan is the largest in a generation, but key to this ambition is delivery of projects and the need for government to set-up the Highways Agency with ring-fenced funding. This will help provide the market with the certainty it requires.

“The updated National Infrastructure Plan is beginning to provide the project detail we’ve been calling for, including the start, completion dates and progress reports. While there is little new money involved across the pipeline of works, the greater clarity now given will increase the likelihood that projects progress from simple announcements to genuine activity on the ground.

“The additional measures announced today will, in a small way, support the industry. Changes to stamp duty should boost the housing market, which had been slowing recently. Abolishing employer’s National Insurance for firms taking on apprentices acknowledges the need to develop a new generation of skilled young people across all sectors, although it should be noted that often apprentices in construction and manufacturing are above the 25 years old threshold.

“The funding for lending extension will benefit our SMEs, as will the increased research and development tax credit for small firms. We’re also keen to learn more of the funding directed to manufacturing research. Finally, we note the £45 million package to help SMEs export to fast growing emerging economies in Africa, Asia and South America; however, we feel that the lack of support for existing exporters to expand into closer linked markets is a missed opportunity.

“We are pleased to see that the government recognises the value of infrastructure, and so has prioritised projects of national significance. It is essential that announcements are matched with delivery if UK economic growth is to be sustained long-term,” Dr Montgomery concluded.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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