• 4 May 2015

Waterman’s quick guide to some of the main Parties manifesto pledges

The stage is set, and on May 7th the UK will go to the polls to elect its next Government. As almost every commentator has now acknowledged, this is one of the closest elections in years, and in all likelihood no single party will gain a majority. Consequently, once more, the horse trading will start and we’ll be faced with a painful period post May 7th, as the parties battle to broker a deal to secure power.

Waterman’s quick guide to the Parties’ manifesto pledges highlights that housing is at the top of the agenda, with Labour opening the bidding with a commitment to deliver 200,000 new homes per year by 2020. The Conservatives marginally trump this commitment, with a promise to deliver the same number, but offer a 20% discount for first time buyers, while the Liberal Democrats outbid everyone with a 300,000 commitment. On the whole, the outlook looks good for the construction sector, with an equal commitment to maintaining investment in infrastructure from all the main parties.

It is critical, however, that whatever is discussed behind closed doors after 7th May, the strategic plans set out in the National Infrastructure Plan are retained. The UK cannot afford any uncertainty in terms of the Government’s commitment to upgrading the country’s infrastructure. Significant investment is still needed in energy, strategic transport, local transport, flood management, water and waste. This investment will only come forward with a transparent pipeline, setting out the investment opportunities, the projects status, planning context, ownership structure and revenue streams. The UK’s public investment in infrastructure as a percentage of GDP still remains behind many of our principal competitors1, although infrastructure investment has increased from £41 billion p.a from 2005-2010 to £47 billion p.a. during 2011-20152. Whilst challenges remain with the Governments procurement process, continued investment is critical, especially at a time when the economic growth remains fragile. The country can ill afford uncertainty in its pipeline of strategic investment. This investment is not only required to maintain the UK’s current competitiveness, but also to increase its resilience with population growth and climate change putting increasing pressure on the existing networks.

The decisions that need to be taken now may not be popular, but the Government (whichever colour(s) it is) will need to have the strength and vision to take a much longer term view than a Coalition term in office. Energy, strategic transport, local transport, flood management – there is a lot to do…!

Let’s hope that strategically important decisions do not get watered down, or worse put back another 5 years for the sake of a select few getting a seat at the table.

Neil Humphrey,
Chief Operating Officer
Waterman Infrastructure & Environment

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