By Michael Northcott Friday, 25 January 2013

Clegg: Coalition should have spent on infrastructure

The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has said the coalition government made a mistake by cutting capital spending when it came to power.

In an interview with The House magazine, he said that ministers had been content that the budget cuts were in line with Labour’s plans on the issue.

He said: ‘If I’m going to be sort of self-critical, there was this reduction in capital spending when we came into the coalition government.

‘I think we comforted ourselves at the time that it was actually no more than what Alastair Darling spelt out anyway, so in a sense everybody was predicting a significant drop off in capital investment. 

‘But I think we’ve all realised that you actually need, in order to foster a recovery, to try and mobilise as much public and private capital into infrastructure as possible.’

His words echo the thoughts of London Mayor Boris Johnson, who will say later today at the World Economic Forum: ‘We need to junk the rhetoric of austerity and be confident. I will be unveiling a seven point economic plan to drive growth in London which drives the whole of the UK economy.’

Johnson’s plans include building more housing, building more road and rail, and extensions to the London Underground railway network.

It’s all well and good to be ‘self-critical’, Clegg, but since the UK economy contracted in the final quarter of 2013, the introspection will be seen by some as too little, too late…

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