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MPA seeks clear focus on delivery of public spending

Jerry McLaughlin

Accelerated and consistent delivery of investment called for in Comprehensive Spending Review submission

THE Mineral Products Association (MPA) has made a submission to HM Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) emphasizing the need for government to focus on accelerated and consistent delivery of infrastructure investment and ensuring that the contributions of UK supply chains are optimized throughout the UK, thereby supporting the Industrial Strategy.

Given the economic and political backdrop, the MPA is urging a clear focus on the delivery of public spending to improve economic efficiency and productivity, and says the measures proposed would help to deliver the efficiency and productivity improvements necessary to secure improved long-term growth.

Key points include:

Improving the delivery of infrastructure investment
Government has increased its commitment to infrastructure, for example through the activities of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) and Infrastructure Projects Authority (IPA). However, UK supply chains are still hampered by over-promising and under-delivery of infrastructure projects and need more-reliable, longer-term programmes to ensure the capacities and capabilities are in place to build, improve and maintain the country’s infrastructure. The Mineral Products Industry is the largest element of this supply chain throughout the UK and operates with long-term planning horizons, therefore long-term policy consistency on infrastructure is a pre-requisite for efficient supply.

Safeguarding road investment and the Road Investment Strategy (RIS)
Although there are supply chain concerns about the heavily backloaded delivery of RIS1, the MPA strongly supports the principle of longer-term planning of road investment and the plans announced for RIS2 and its financing through the National Roads Fund and vehicle excise duty receipts. Complementary investment in local roads is also vital.

Improving local road maintenance
It is widely acknowledged that there has been historic underinvestment in the maintenance and improvement of local roads. Local authorities in England and Wales are responsible for more than 204,000 miles of roads, accounting for 97% of the total road network and with a reported asset value of £395 billion. In the 2018 Budget, government allocated an additional £420 million of funding for local road maintenance in 2018/19, highlighting the need for a sustained increase in funding for local road maintenance.

Aligning CSR objectives with other policy and regulatory activities
Stating that the CSR should be aligned with other government policy objectives is a statement of the obvious, but in one key respect there remains danger of misalignment. Specifically, the MPA submission highlights the fact that the UK mineral products industry is a key enabling industry which provides the products and services that allow plans to invest in housing, infrastructure and other development to be realized. To ensure that this supply chain continues to function efficiently, the planning and regulatory systems need to be modernized and better resourced. The MPA proposes the use of revenues from the £400 million per annum Aggregates Levy to help finance the operation of the mineral planning system, therefore providing a foundation for future housing, infrastructure and other development.

Jerry McLaughlin (pictured), director of economics and public affairs at the MPA, said: ‘There has been notable progress in infrastructure planning and engagement in recent years and it should be a clear objective of the next public spending period to build on this progress with a greater focus on project and programme delivery.

‘Ensuring that adequate funding is in place and that there is better engagement with infrastructure and construction supply chains so that project benefits are seen throughout the UK is vital. An early opportunity to help ensure infrastructure and housing delivery is to use of a small proportion of the £400 million per annum of Aggregates Levy receipts to help finance the operation of the mineral planning system.’

A copy of the MPA’s Comprehensive Spending Review submission can be downloaded below.

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