Prime minister Theresa May recently declared the end of austerity and the construction industry is hoping to benefit.
Civil engineering contractors have written to Mr Hammond pressing him to priorities the big infrastructure projects that they are looking forward to building
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association wants to see a commitment to the projects outlined in the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan as well as reform of the apprenticeship levy in England. Both outcomes are likely.
CECA director of external affairs Marie-Claude Hemming said: “The infrastructure sector is operating within historically low sector profit margins, making it increasingly hard for our members to invest for the long term in their businesses.
“We believe the chancellor should use his budget to commit to projects outlined in the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan and to develop and clarify the long-term pipeline of work to secure economic growth across the whole of the UK.
“Mr Hammond must also do all he can to support business growth through the taxation model, to mitigate the uncertainties surrounding the potential impact of the UK leaving the European Union next year.
“CECA has long advocated rebalancing the economy and supporting regional economic growth. That’s why we have called on the government to recognise the regional expertise offered by sub-national transport bodies [e.g. Transport for London, Transport for the North etc.], and to support their development so that they can formulate policy priorities based on local needs.
“The UK will require substantial increases in infrastructure investment if we are to keep pace with our global competitors as an attractive place to work, live, and invest after Brexit.
“This will require a considerable expansion of the workforce. However, the apprenticeship levy in England has failed to boost the recruitment of new apprentices, and greater flexibility must be built into how it operates if it is to enable our members to train and upskill the workforce of tomorrow.
“A successful infrastructure sector drives economic growth and delivers the transport and utility schemes that businesses and communities rely upon every day. It is vital that the chancellor keeps his eyes on the prize when it comes to infrastructure, and takes steps to deliver the certainty of work our members require to boost efficiencies, drive productivity, and deliver the infrastructure that powers our economy.”