William Eichler 08 September 2020

Private finance can drive ‘infrastructure revolution’, says CBI

Private sector investment can be a major driver of the UK’s ‘infrastructure revolution’, according to business representatives.

Government spending plans unveiled in March’s Budget included £640bn of infrastructure pledges. However, since then the pandemic has placed an unexpected burden on the UK economy.

The CBI, in a new paper entitled Investing in infrastructure, argues that private finance can play a ‘crucial role’ in delivering on the Government’s infrastructure promises.

The report lays out a series of recommendations to Government on how to attract increased private sector investment to deliver on infrastructure commitments and to drive growth and productivity.

Key among those recommendations is for the Government to create a UK infrastructure bank to help deliver infrastructure and support the economic recovery in the event the UK ends its participation with the European Investment Bank.

The report outlines the proposed bank’s role of focusing on crowding in private finance by reducing risks, promoting market stability, and increasing investor confidence.

Other recommendations include giving additional powers to the National Infrastructure Commission and Infrastructure and Projects Authority – offering them greater independence and authority to hold Government to account on infrastructure delivery.

The report also recommends reforming the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline to boost confidence in the market and provide clarity about opportunities for potential private sector investors.

Matthew Fell, the chief UK Policy Director at the CBI, said: ‘Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, businesses welcomed the Government’s commitment to deliver an “infrastructure revolution” and interpreted it as a clear sign that the Government was serious about delivering on its levelling-up agenda.

‘While the UK Government’s commitment to delivering infrastructure remains undeterred, the country’s fiscal position has substantially worsened. In this context, the private sector now has an even more important role to play in helping to bridge the funding gap needed to deliver the Government’s vision for UK infrastructure.

‘To support its ambitious infrastructure agenda and provide better connectivity, at good value for taxpayers, the Government must reinvigorate the UK infrastructure market tackling concerns about regulation and a lack of clarity about investment opportunities.

‘The Government must commit to an approach that gives confidence to investors and capitalises on the attributes of businesses and public sector establishing itself once again as a world class destination for investment.’

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