The Conservative Party surprised all pundits and pollsters last week by winning a clear majority of House of Commons seats at the 2015 general election. David Cameron secured another five years as prime minister, this time with a clear majority, winning 331 of the 650 seats. There will be no need for support from a junior coalition party this time and the nation should expect no dilution of Conservative manifesto commitments.
Promises include a 1% reduction in government spending next year and the year after, to bring expenditure below income, then from 2019 increased spending only in line with inflation.
Some £13bn of investment in transport links in the north of England is promised and the £50bn HS2 rail project remains firmly alive. There is also a commitment to support house-building, including a promise of 200,000 new starter homes by 2020.
However, the Conservative manifesto said absolutely nothing about building a new runway in the south of England. The Airport Commission is scheduled to deliver its final report in the next few weeks recommending a new runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow airport. It will be one of the biggest tests of the new government: is it prepared to withstand the storm of protest that is certain to greet any decision; or will it bottle it?
Katja Hall, deputy director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: "With one of the most unpredictable elections in living memory now behind us, the new government must get into its stride quickly. It should set out clear plans for the next parliament within the first 100 days, and have a laser-like focus on delivery.
"The prime minister should prioritise building on the progress made to get the deficit down, finding more innovative ways to deliver public services and backing the final decision from the Airports Commission so we get diggers in the ground by 2020.
"Business will take an active role in arguing the case for the UK to remain inside a reformed EU, and it will be vital for the government to set the bar for that reform at a level which is both ambitious and achievable."
Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) director general Nick Baveystock said: “The cloud of uncertainty that precedes a general election and adversely affects our industry has now lifted and we are confident the new government will move swiftly to reassure industry on the post-election outlook. Continuity is the single most important thing for the infrastructure supply chain and investment community.
“We look forward to working together, building on the relationship established, and the progress made. We must start moving towards a longer-term vision for infrastructure – one which underpins a rebalanced, low carbon economy and is shielded from political short termism.”
Linden Homes managing director Andrew Richards said: “We have worked extremely hard over the last five years to engage with all parties as well as the Conservative-led coalition, to advise how policy and initiatives work in practice in the housebuilding industry. That consultation work has enabled us to understand government priorities and be fully immersed in the National Planning Policy Framework reform, which is now starting to make headway.
“What the housebuilding industry now needs from the new government is stability. Stability translates into certainty around planning reform, ‘home buyer enablers’ on offer and the wider economy to help keep Britain building. We hope that this majority government will command that level of guarantee and solidarity in the planning process to spur the delivery of much needed homes across the country.”
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “We would like to see the government prioritise a coherent plan to deliver increased housing supply; to follow through on the commitment to fundamentally review business rates, and take action to put in place the right infrastructure – including real estate – that will allow our country to thrive.”
Rob Oliver, chief executive of the Construction Equipment Association, said: “I think the prospect of some continuity in government policies is generally welcome. The continuation and thorough execution of the existing strategies covering construction and manufacturing will be something we will press for. We will be particularly keen to see that the current construction pipeline remains intact and that longer term infrastructure projects are not sidelined.”