Private sector can bridge infrastructure funding gap

Private sector investment can drive the UK’s “infrastructure revolution” and fill the COVID-19 funding gap to deliver the government’s vision, a report has said.

On 7 September, the CBI published a report, Investing in infrastructure, in which it set out how new infrastructure can play a key role in supporting a green recovery and driving progress towards the UK’s 2050 net zero target. To seize these opportunities and meet its climate ambitions, the UK needs a “significant programme of infrastructure investment”.

This is something it has pledged, the report acknowledged, with the government earmarking £600bn in infrastructure investment over the next five years in the March 2020 Budget. Despite reiterating its commitment to an “infrastructure revolution” since, COVID-19 has left the UK facing a £372bn deficit in 2020-21, with its fiscal position having “substantially worsened” since that call.

This is where the private sector can act to bridge the funding gap and deliver on the government’s vision, with the report making a series of recommendations of how to attract this investment. It cited the creation of UK infrastructure bank as key, should the UK’s access to the European Investment Bank end. This would help to deliver infrastructure and support the economic recovery.

It also called on government to require regulators to have specific regard to deliver the National Infrastructure Strategy, including progressing towards meeting the net zero emissions target for 2050. Each regulator would have a clear responsibility to acknowledge how regulatory policy aligns with the government’s strategic objectives on infrastructure investment, including its net zero emissions target for 2050. This would also require each regulated sector to assist regulatory decisions and reduce fragmentation between departments and regulatory bodies.

CBI Edie