The Chancellor’s Budget proposals for infrastructure have been welcomed, but the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) believe its Assessment should be used if the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy is to be implemented successfully.
In his Budget, Philip Hammond has allocated billions to the improvement of the country’s infrastructure, including a £28.8 billion package to improve motorways and local roads, £420 million to arrest the blight of potholes; £37 million for Northern Powerhouse Rail and an increase to the Transforming Cities Fund.
Plans were also announced for a National Infrastructure Strategy next year. However, the NIC – the department responsible for the provision of expert advice to the government regarding infrastructure challenges – believes the Strategy needs to set out “an ambitious long-term and cross-sectoral agenda, addressing the UK’s needs in energy and water as well as transport and digital communications.”
Sir John Armitt, Chairman of the NIC, outlined a range of measures he would like to see implemented in next year’s Spending Review and National Infrastructure Strategy.
They include long term funding for Northern Powerhouse Rail to link cities in the North of England, as well as Crossrail 2 in London; the devolution of powers and funding to cities who can improve local transport networks; and measures that create visible and long term charging for electric vehicles.
Key to this success, according to Sir John, is to implement the recommendations of the National Infrastructure Assessment.
He said the “Budget includes a number of welcome measures for infrastructure – but the real test will be next year’s Spending Review and, crucially, the National Infrastructure Strategy that the Chancellor has promised.
“This Strategy should bring together the roads funding from this Budget with longer-term funding for cities and projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail and Crossrail 2.
“These measures and more formed our National Infrastructure Assessment – the first of its kind in the UK. Now that the Budget has been announced, I would urge Philip Hammond to use his Spending Review and the planned Strategy to implement our recommendations in full.”