“Government action needed to transform UK Infrastructure”, demands Chief

National Infrastructure Commission chair, Sir John Armitt, has recently called on the Chancellor to use this autumn’s Spending Review to commit to “a once-in-a-generation transformation of the UK’s transport, energy and technology networks.”

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In a letter to the Chancellor, Armitt lays down four key tests by which the commission will judge the credibility of the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy, which is expected to be announced at the autumn Spending Review. Armitt warned:

“Building the right infrastructure for the mid-21st century will help Britain shape a new national and global identity. One built on optimism and confidence. The government must not deliver a weak strategy that pays only lip service to our recommendations. We don’t want to hear vague promises and a restatement of existing commitments.”

In the letter to the Chancellor, Armitt’s key tests are:

  • A long term perspective – the strategy must look beyond the immediate spending review period and set out the government’s expectations for infrastructure funding and policy up to 2050;
  • Clear goals and plans to achieve them – where the government endorses an assessment recommendation, this should be backed up with a specific plan, with clear deadlines and identified owners, to ensure the commission can easily check progress;
  • A firm funding commitment – the government should commit to providing funding in line with the upper limit of the agreed guideline: 1.2% of GDP a year invested in infrastructure;
  • A genuine commitment to change – recommendations such as devolving funding for urban transport to cities and a national standard for flood resilience are fundamental policy changes, and “the strategy needs to respond in the same spirit.”

Commenting on the announcement, Joe Wilson, Director of Highways and Civil Engineering at Matchtech, said:

“Sir John Armitt is absolutely right to make devolved funding to city regions for urban transport a key test of the government’s future infrastructure plan, a move which would undoubtedly lead to higher quality transport in cities, and all the associated benefits this brings.

“Where funding for transport has already been devolved to city regions, we have seen better services for the communities and the people which they serve. We hope government will take on board the commission’s recommendations and we look forward to its National Infrastructure Strategy this autumn.”

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