U.K. Plays Catch-Up on Infrastructure as Spending Beats EU Peers

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Britain is outspending its major European Union peers when it comes to investment projects as it tries to make up for past neglect.

Government investment in infrastructure accounted for 2.3 percent of total public spending in 2017, higher than in Germany, France and Italy, according to Office for National Statistics data published Friday.

U.K. Plays Catch-Up on Infrastructure as Spending Beats EU Peers

The U.K. is still playing catch-up after years of under-investment, which has been blamed for holding back productivity with travelers forced to endure crowded trains and congested airports. As a share of gross domestic product, the stock of infrastructure in Britain remains smaller than in France and Italy, the ONS said.

The pickup may reflect the fact that the U.K. used infrastructure to stimulate the economy in the wake of the financial crisis, and sustained the trend with projects including superfast broadband, CrossRail and the 56 billion-pound ($73 billion) High-Speed 2 railway line between London and northern England.

Government investment in infrastructure grew an annual 6.1 percent in Britain between 2013 and 2017, faster than in Germany. Spending fell in France, Italy and the Netherlands.

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