Downing Street double act hail infrastructure jobs boost

David Cameron and George Osborne claim the infrastructure programme will support more than 150,000 construction jobs

David Cameron and George Osborne made a rare joint appearance recently to publicise an infrastructure programme that they claim will support more than 150,000 construction jobs.

Visiting a transport project in the east Midlands, the prime minister and the chancellor said that more than 200 infrastructure projects are due to be completed in 2014-15, and that more than 200 infrastructure projects are due to be started over the same period.

The schemes are ones that have already been itemised in the government’s national infrastructure plan, but Cameron and Osborne are keen to publicise them in order to demonstrate their commitment to what the Conservatives describe as their “long-term economic plan”.

They have tended to avoid joint appearances in the past, partly for fear of reinforcing the impression that government is run by people from highly privileged backgrounds. But, with economic indicators looking up, and the Conservatives extending their lead over Labour as the party most trusted on the economy, No 10 has decided the presentational advantages of fielding both men outweigh any potential drawbacks.

One source said that Cameron and Osborne were sharing the infrastructure announcement because it was “a very important issue” and having both men taking part would ensure that it “gets good coverage”.

According to Downing Street, £36bn will be spent on the projects starting this year, with £5bn coming directly from the state, £21bn from the private sector and a further £10bn from joint public/private investment. The government claims this spending will support more than 150,000 construction jobs.

The projects starting this financial year include: the £589m Mersey Gateway Bridge, a six-lane tolled suspension bridge linking Runcorn and Widnes; the £18m Sheffield Don Valley flood relief scheme; the £30m Exeter flood defence scheme; and the A1 Leeming to Barton motorway upgrade in Yorkshire, which is expected to cut journey times by 20%.

The 200-plus infrastructure projects due to be completed this year include the Nottingham tram extension, the Heathrow Terminal 2 upgrade and the Gwynt y Môr offshore windfarm, currently the largest in construction in Europe.

In a statement, Cameron said: “Ensuring Britain has first class infrastructure is a crucial part of our long term economic plan: supporting business, creating jobs and providing a better future for hardworking people.

“As a crucial part of our long-term economic plan, this government is backing business with better infrastructure so that more jobs and opportunities are created for hardworking people, meaning more financial security and peace of mind for families.”

Other ministers will also be making visits on Tuesday to publicise infrastructure projects, including Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, who will be inspecting progress on a redevelopment at Birmingham New Street station.

Alasdair Reisner, chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said that renewing the country’s infrastructure could add up to 5% to GDP.

“We believe that effective infrastructure is the cornerstone of a thriving economy. Our research indicates that every job created maintaining and improving our transport and utility networks supports a total of three new jobs across the economy as a whole,” he said.

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