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New pipeline shows golden age of infrastructure beckons

We are currently living in a golden age for infrastructure as the sector is now a top priority for both ministers and investors.

Having spent most of my career in the private sector, I have seen first-hand the impact government can have on the delivery of major projects. One of the things government can do to create an environment for successful project delivery is provide as much clarity as possible about future opportunities.

This week, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) did just that by publishing a National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline, designed to help industry plan for the long term.

Today KPMG has published its own analysis of the pipeline, confirming that it sets out a record £500bn of planned investment.

Two-thirds (£300bn) will be invested by the end of this parliament and around half of the 720 schemes are expected to be built by 2021.

It includes £11bn of additional investment in housing and economic infrastructure over the next four years – as featured in last month’s Autumn Statement as part of the government’s new £23bn National Productivity Investment Fund – as well as the new Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, Mersey Gateway Bridge and Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Over half of the pipeline is made up of private finance, while the rest comes from public funds or a mixture of both.

This builds on the chancellor’s ambition to support investors, through measures such as extending the support for government-backed infrastructure bonds to 2026 and developing new PF2 projects.

Painting our own picture

The investment picture painted by our own analysis, is one of a UK infrastructure market that is highly competitive and attractive, reinforcing the UK’s number one ranking – above Germany, US and China – in Nabarro’s Infrastructure Investment Index.

“Although there is clear evidence of improving delivery in the UK, I believe there is more we can do”

Creating the IPA earlier this year has enabled us to produce a more comprehensive pipeline. We have now brought together data on both economic and social infrastructure so government and industry can better plan for future skills and resource needs.

It demonstrates continuity of work, provides a single source of data and greater transparency for investors and the supply chain, encouraging industry to invest strategically for the market, not just tactically for the project.

We will continue this comprehensive approach, working with industry to ensure these projects get delivered, just as we have helped the construction of around 3,000 individual infrastructure projects since 2010.

Worth fighting for

I want to emphasise our focus on delivery.

Delivering complex projects successfully is always difficult and there will be many challenges ahead.

While the IPA does not select projects – we provide input into those decisions – we are ruthlessly focused on making sure that projects and programmes get delivered and maximising the public benefits from all infrastructure spending.

Although there is clear evidence of improving delivery in the UK, I believe there is more we can do.

Therefore to build on the progress to date, we will lead a review to identify how the government, working alongside industry, can improve the quality, cost and performance of UK infrastructure to achieve even greater value for money.

Infrastructure is clearly very high on the political and economic agenda. We now have a comprehensive framework to support infrastructure; as the National Infrastructure Commission identifies our long-term infrastructure needs, which the IPA translates into successful delivery.

Ministers recognise the fundamental role infrastructure plays in driving economic growth, boosting productivity and improving people’s quality of life.

Now is the time to make sure this golden age of infrastructure lasts long into the 21st century by seizing on the opportunities set out in the pipeline.

Tony Meggs is chief executive of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), part of HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office

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