U.K. Takes Steps to Improve Productivity in Infrastructure Drive

(Bloomberg) -- Britain announced plans to generate savings of as much as 15 billion pounds ($20 billion) a year by improving productivity in sectors such as construction and transport.

New programs to increase efficiency were published alongside the government’s 600 billion-pound infrastructure pipeline, which sets out a series of publicly and privately funded projects over the next 10 years, the Treasury said in a statement on Wednesday.

By increasing funding in technology and skills, the government hopes to make sure large-scale infrastructure projects such as building hospitals or road networks can be completed on time and within budget. Recent projects such as the HS2 rail line from London to northern England have been plagued by delays and criticism of spiraling costs.

"We’re working with the industry to skill up and scale up for the challenges ahead,” Treasury minister Andrew Jones said. “Investing in infrastructure boosts productivity for the economy as a whole. The scale of the investment we are talking about here will deliver a step change for our country."

Business groups such as the Confederation for British Industry have long called for measures to boost output per worker in the U.K., which they argue could help offset any negative impact from Brexit. The country’s fiscal watchdog downgraded its outlook for productivity last month, warning this would weigh on future growth prospects.  

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