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Infrastructure guarantees positive but must deliver action on the ground

Commenting on the announcement of new guarantee schemes to kick-start infrastructure projects and support exports,Cheryl Smart MBE, Chief Executive of Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce said:

“Ministers’ newfound willingness to use the government’s balance sheet to kick-start stalled projects is a positive development, particularly as our umbrella body the British Chambers of Commerce has called for urgent action on infrastructure for many months. The business community will be heartened to see the Treasury showing signs of innovative thinking on infrastructure financing. With luck, this indicates officials are willing to consider more radical funding options for bigger and longer-term projects.

“For too long, businesses have had to put up with deficient transport infrastructure that adds delays, uncertainty and cost. With traffic snarled on the A303 in the South West, the A1 and A19 in the North, and the A14 between the Midlands and East Coast ports to name a few, ministers must use both their chequebook and their legal powers to get Britain moving. The new scheme must also move swiftly to kick-start housing and energy projects – not tie them up in a long and complex application process.

“What’s clear is that these announcements are long overdue. The question must be asked: when infrastructure investment provides immediate confidence, followed by jobs and greater competitiveness, what has taken Whitehall so long? Business expects speedy action, rather than yet more unfulfilled promises. Only visible results on the ground will make this announcement, and the government’s National Infrastructure Plan, worth the paper they’re written on.”

Referring to long-term export guarantees,Cheryl Smart added:

“The announcement of £5bn in long-term export guarantees will help many British firms seal significant deals overseas. This has the potential to support not just major companies, but many hundreds of others in their supply chains across Britain.”