Dry leaves


Chancellor Philip Hammond's autumn statement today included no mention of household water retail competition or water infrastructure investment. His silence on household retail after the Treasury started the debate on giving households choice of water supplier could be interpreted as a change of heart.

Hammond (pictured) did include a pledge to "prioritise additional high-value investment particularly in infrastructure" as well as an assertion that "a market economy was the way forward" along with a note directed in part to the energy sector, that government will intervene to ensure markets are functioning fairly .

Among other matters that might take in water industry considerations, Hammond unveiled a new £2.3bn housing infrastructure fund as part of a "focus for government infrastructure investment on unlocking land for new housing" and a commitment to "double the capital spending on housing in the course of this Parliament." He acknowledged that one of the greatest obstacles to housing development was its "impact on local infrastructure."

After sketching the UK's lamentable productivity – substantially behind Germany and France and even Italy, Hammond announced £23bn National Productivity Investment Fund for innovation and infrastructure.

He announced a commitment of £1.8bn in infrastructure funding for English regions and said he had written to the National Infrastructure Commission to advise it to "base its recommendations on future infrastructure needs of the country on an assumption of

1-1.2% of GDP in infrastructure spending from 2020." He said also that he would extend the support for private infrastructure investment through the UK guarantees scheme to 2026.