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Spending Review must support innovation to improve resilience and cut carbon emissions

The UK government’s Spending Review should include support for innovation, especially to achieve the aims of net zero emissions, resilient infrastructure and nationwide digitalisation, according to recommendations published by the National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC). The UK should aim to be not just a science superpower, but a science, engineering and innovation superpower, enabling it to deliver the maximum economic and social returns from its investment in science.

In a joint paper compiled by the NEPC, over 40 engineering organisations (including ICME) representing more than 450,000 UK engineers recommend that government invests in its proposed actions to help decarbonise the economy, and create a national workforce planning strategy to create jobs and spread opportunities more evenly across the nation. It says the UK could position itself as a market leader in low carbon technologies, but achieving net zero carbon emissions depends on a resilient infrastructure system – the net zero and resilience agendas must be achieved together.

The 2020 Spending Review is one of the most important in a generation, coming at a time when the UK is in recession and the impact of the pandemic has increased inequality. Careful and considered decisions must be made now about physical and digital infrastructure to drive economic recovery and provide skilled jobs. The paper calls for long-term evidence-based infrastructure needs to be addressed, with individual regions being given the freedom to create infrastructure strategies. It also recommends building world-class digital connectivity and infrastructure that is fast, secure and resilient enough for an advanced digital economy. www.raeng.co.uk