The government’s woeful infrastructure record to date

The coalition's record to date on infrastructure is woeful.

The government will today announce an infrastructure plan setting out £375bn of investment for things like roads and railways.

What they probably won’t tell you is that to date its record on infrastructure is woeful.

Work on infrastructure fell by 13 per cent last year according to the Office for National Statistics. In the third quarter of this year it was also 3.7 per cent down on a year ago.

The government has slashed infrastructure investment by £12.8 billion compared to the plans they inherited from Labour. In its spending review the government also set out plans to cut capital investment further in real terms in 2015/16.

Data from last year also show a slump in the building of affordable homes. Figures released at the end of last year revealed that starts for affordable home ownership were down 80 per cent from 3,197 to 629 since 2010, while starts for social rent were down 95 per cent (see graph).

Affordable homes

According to World Economic Forum rankings, the UK’s ‘quality of infrastructure’ ranks 24th in the World – behind Barbados and Saudi Arabia.

It was reported in February this year that just one in 100 infrastructure projects had been completed, with only 18 per cent of projects started, ‘in construction’ or ‘under construction’.

A survey of businesses by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) last year also found that 73 per cent did not think transport infrastructure would improve over the next five years, with two-thirds believing the UK’s energy and water infrastructure was unlikely to get any better.

Labour shadow chief secretary to the treasury Chris Leslie MP said for the last three-and-a-half years the government’s record on infrastructure has been one of “complete failure”.

“Scheme after scheme has been announced to great fanfare but then little actually delivered. Yet another announcement from Ministers about possible future investment will do little to reassure business that warm words will finally translate into diggers in the ground,” he said.

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