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Dismay over spending watchdog call to shelve planned transport infrastructure

Lee Baker
23 July 2016
The spending watchdog questioned whether there would be the Whitehall resources to deliver HS2 and other projects
The spending watchdog questioned whether there would be the Whitehall resources to deliver HS2 and other projects

 

Businesses have expressed dismay over the National Audit Office's call for the Government to cancel some major infrastructure projects given the pressures of negotiating to leave the European Union.

The auditor general Sir Amyas Morse told The Guardian that leaving the EU needed to be treated as an "emergency" that would take a lot of Whitehall resources, meaning that a large pipeline of infrastructure projects would need to be reviewed. "We need to ask ourselves, can the public sector deliver Hinkley Point C, a third runway, HS2, a northern powerhouse, nuclear decommissioning, Trident renewal and restoration of the Palace of Westminster all at the same time? All these projects are drawing on the same pool of skills."

He said the policy to have lots of infrastructure projects would need to be considered alongside the resource-intensive "Brexit plans" and it would be better to cancel some projects rather than "rushing around arbitrarily stopping things".

But the British Chambers of Commerce told The FT that the current "time of transition is precisely when we need these infrastructure investments the most" given "they crowd in private sector investment, create jobs and supply chain opportunities and boost confidence". There has been speculation that the Government would seek to stimulate the economy through additional investment, after Theresa May urged more Government-backed bonds to raise productivity.

 
 
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