Chris Ames 30 September 2021

MPs call for metrics and monitoring to prevent white elephants

MPs call for metrics and monitoring to prevent white elephants image

The levelling up agenda ‘needs to move beyond rhetoric and on to delivery, requiring targets and metrics to enable Parliament and public to identify success’, MPs have said.

In a new report, the Transport Select Committee pointed out that major transport infrastructure is at the centre of last year’s National Infrastructure Strategy, which aims to support an ‘infrastructure revolution’ to reduce regional inequalities within the UK.

MPs said that while the pandemic continues, the Government should examine whether existing projects will deliver their intended strategic benefits and policy objectives.

The committee called on the Government to prioritise projects that support connectivity, growth and productivity and recommended a new framework for assessing individual projects, replacing benefit-cost ratios with a ‘benefit-cost plus’ system, ‘to ensure value for money for the taxpayer while according due weight to geographic, environmental and social factors’.

The report highlighted several major transport infrastructure projects that have exceeded timelines and budgets, with senior management at government agencies ‘apparently unaccountable for progress’.

It added that delivering such projects ‘is a challenging and complex process made more difficult, and less transparent, by single specific targets’ and recommended the introduction of floors and ceilings for project costs and timescales.

Committee chair Huw Merriman said: ‘Too many projects start out with early political announcements but no clear view of the finish line. As a consequence, many overrun on time and budget without sufficient accountability. We see the benefit of a UK-wide infrastructure programme – we want the public to share that view, too. Government must set out the definition and metrics by which success will be defined.

‘The changes to the Government’s transport spending rules are welcome in order to deliver our net zero and regeneration targets. Too many projects have been focused in the most productive parts of the country purely because they deliver the greatest bang for the buck to the Treasury. However, the Government must continue to keep an eye on return to the taxpayer and not invest in "green" white elephants or projects which do not level up for those who most need it.'

MPs also called for the creation of a formal duty to inform Parliament’s Select Committees about increased costs or delivery times for the roll-out of major transport infrastructure projects.

The Committee said it had also heard of predicted shortfalls in skills across project delivery, analysis, construction, engineering, management and leadership and called on the Government to develop and deliver a future skills plan in consultation to identify and address skills gaps that might delay projects.

This article first appeared on Transport Network

Skate parks are not the only fruit image

Skate parks are not the only fruit

On Go Skateboarding Day, Susannah Walker asks councils and their leisure and park departments to think differently about what facilities they provide for teenagers.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Social Worker - Adult Social Care (CLDT)

Bolton Council
This is a permanent Social Work role in Adult Social Care. Bolton, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Bolton Council

Principal Programme Officer

Bolton Council
Do you enjoy variety and change? Can you keep your eye on the detail whilst also thinking strategically? Bolton, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Bolton Council

IDT Junior Developer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£28,226 - £30,095
Telford & Wrekin Council are seeking an enthusiastic and highly motivated Junior Developer. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Activities Leader (Outdoor Adventurous Activities)

Leicestershire County Council
Lead activities and ensure that delivery of programmes are of a high standard. Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicestershire County Council

Transition Support Worker (Complex Needs)

Leicestershire County Council
This is an exciting opportunity for to work with an experienced team delivering high quality learning opportunities and care. Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicestershire County Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.