Ministers should consider creating a UK version of the European Investment Bank to protect infrastructure funding after the country leaves the EU, a panel of industry leaders has urged.
The Sir John Armitt-chaired Brexit Infrastructure Group said the government should consult on the possibility of setting up a UK investment bank following Brexit.
The European Investment Bank provides finance and expertise for sustainable projects that contribute to EU policy objectives.
It invested €29bn (£25bn) in UK projects from 2011 to 2015, according to the Brexit Infrastructure Group, which insisted that clarifying the UK’s future relationship with the institution should be a priority in negotiations to leave the EU.
In a report released yesterday, the group said: “In preparation for a loss of membership, the government should start consulting with industry now on alternative options for filling this gap in the investment mix.
“This should include the potential for a UK investment bank to replace EIB funding for future infrastructure projects.”
The group – which also has Skanska UK president Mike Putnam on its leadership board – warned that Brexit could damage the ability of the UK to deliver its infrastructure pipeline.
Its report also called for the government to work with the industry to prioritise people with the skills required for the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline in the post-Brexit immigration system.
The group said infrastructure needed to remain a key element of the government’s much-vaunted industrial strategy.
Sir John said: “The EIB has been a vital part of the investment mix, acting as a critical anchor investor, funding billions of UK infrastructure projects and attracting other sources of funding.
“If we are at risk of losing this source of investment, the government should start consulting with industry now on alternative options, including the potential for an infrastructure investment bank.
“This will send a clear signal to the market, and help consolidate the UK’s reputation as a global leader in infrastructure delivery.”
Prime minister Theresa May is expected to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday, officially signalling the UK’s intention to leave the EU.
Procurement giant Scape earlier this month warned the construction industry could fork out an extra half a billion pounds in 2017 on materials due to the impact of the EU referendum.
Meanwhile the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors forecast that more than 175,000 EU workers could be lost from the construction workforce when the UK leaves the union.
And Lord Stunnell, the man leading a review into the impact leaving the EU will have on the industry, told Construction News in February that the sector’s output could shrink by 9 per cent following a hard Brexit.