All eyes are on the upcoming budget. The Courts Service is shedding 400 jobs as it strives to find an extra £249M savings this year.
Beyond the budget, the Comprehensive Spending Review will have a further impact. It will help decide how Westminster and local councils divvy up their allowances to enable infrastructure improvements.
It’s the UK’s infrastructure that’s caught IPSE‘s eye, too.
The Independent Transport Commission’s recommendations for greater domestic air travel, to which IPSE was responding, has led to the Airports Commission lobbying government to implement ITC’s findings.
With the Treasury’s purse strings far from loosening, what do all these bodies want to see mapped out? And is there enough to go around?
London holds the key to the country’s infrastructure
Despite signs of economic recovery, it’s fair to assume that not everyone is going to get what they want. The government is caught in a Catch 22.
It knows investment in Britain’s rail, roads and airports is essential. But how far do they splash the cash before threatening other key public sectors, such as health and the environment?
Like it or loathe it, London is key to the discussion. When HS2 materialises, we may well see the capital’s wealth follow the M6 from the south-east up to the north west. But that project might as well be on the moon, given other projects that need more immediate attention.
Transport for London threw its hat into the ring at the CBI’s recent council meeting. It too has an eye on the CSR. It warned of the impact of doing nothing as forecasts point to London’s population reaching 10M by 2030.
Ripples will begin to spread from the capital soon
With a 5-6 year business plan, TfL is conscious of the homes needed in the city. But it also acknowledges that, to keep pace with the change in demographic, 60,000 jobs will be created outside the capital. Included in their plan is Crossrail 2, which they’d hope to see developed by 2020.
The CBI is now considering TfL’s business plan, along with opinions and requests from other stakeholders. It will then compose its own CSR submission based on the myriad options and opinions contained therein.
Contractor’s lifestyle is far departure from generations gone by
And “options” is the name of the game for the ITC’s report, which IPSE was so keen to voice its opinion about. They involve London’s airways, and these are the options the report says make most sense:
- build a second runway;
- build a third runway;
- extend the northern runway.
Each will have opposition; each have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. But after investigating the options, even in the worst case scenario every choice will help sustain the UK’s economic growth, if not enhance it.
The problem independent professionals face is growing demand for their services on site.
The Skills Shortage is Opening Doors; Now we Need the Corridor
In days gone by, a web designer in Manchester would be satisfied with the North-West catchment area. Now, with the growing skills shortage, not being able to get where the big money is could be a real barrier to earnings.
According to IPSE, one in ten freelance assignments awarded in the UK is serviced on the continent. If we can’t get there, the only documentation we’ll be picking up is a UB40. (Yeah, you got to be at least 40 to make that connection…).
Moreover, we must consider the client’s perspective. Development in technology is racing far ahead of the layman’s learning capacity (let alone the development of the UK’s infrastructure).
Businesses want to harness ‘big data’. But they haven’t the foggiest where to put the reins on that particular horse. In the mane [sic], few people have.
It’s therefore conceivable to think that, on occasion, a contractor could be the only qualified technician for a specific assignment on the continent. With all the best engineers in Mountain View, that’s a very real possibility, especially for A.I. projects.
In order to make the most of the top contracts in Europe, contractors must have access to scheduled, efficient road, rail and air travel. That’s why IPSE is behind the ITC report and Airport Commission. It’s in everyone’s interest to see these recommendations begin to take shape in the first 100 days of the new government’s term.