Spring Statement 2018: Business West calls for action on housing and infrastructure

March 12, 2018

Chancellor Philip Hammond is being urged to tackle Swindon’s housing crisis and invest in its infrastructure in his Spring Statement tomorrow.

The plea has come from Business West, the region’s largest business organisation, which also runs the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative.

With only a year until we leave the European Union, Business West also wants clarity over what support businesses impacted the move can expect from the Chancellor’s £3bn Brexit ‘war chest’.

Business West director of policy Matt Griffith said: “A legacy of underinvestment means that our infrastructure is creaking, so much so that it threatens the future growth potential of the region.

“To this end, I urge the Chancellor to consider the broader economic benefits that would come from reducing housing costs and congestion and improving connectivity here.

“A case in point: while the cost of housing across the country is beginning to stagnate, prices in the West of England continue to rise further as our population grows. The Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) is a government capital grant programme, which aims to address areas of greatest housing demand, and I would like to see some encouragement from government that they recognise the extent of the problems we face locally and provide more detail to the government’s backing of Bristol’s current HIF bid.

“With only a year until we leave the European Union all seems to have gone quiet on the £3bn Brexit war chest provided by the Chancellor to Whitehall to cover the cost of Brexit. Businesses have been left in the dark as to what support they can expect to receive and time is ticking.”

Mr Hammond will present his Spring Statement to MPs tomorrow in a speech expected to last just 20 minutes. He has promised a 'low-key' report on the nation's finances and economic outlook but with no spending or tax pledges.

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