NIC delivers four key tests to government

 

National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) chair Sir John Armitt has outlined four key tests for the Government's national infrastructure strategy, expected to be unveiled at this year's Spending Review.

He has written to the chancellor calling for 'a once-in-a-generation transformation of the UK’s transport, energy and technology networks'.

The NIC's plans must be costed within a fiscal remit of 1 to 1.2% of GDP a year.

The key tests are:

  • A long-term perspective – the strategy must set out the Government’s expectations for infrastructure funding and policy up to 2050;
  • Clear goals and plans to achieve them – this should include clear deadlines and identified owners, to ensure the Commission can easily check progress;
  • A firm funding commitment – the Government should commit to providing funding in line with the upper limit of the agreed guideline: 1.2% of GDP a year invested in infrastructure;
  • A genuine commitment to change – recommendations such as devolving funding for urban transport to cities and a national standard for flood resilience are fundamental policy changes, and 'the strategy needs to respond in the same spirit'
”Local
Sir John Armitt

Sir John warned: 'The Government must not deliver a weak strategy that pays only lip service to our recommendations. We don’t want to hear vague promises and a restatement of existing commitments.

'These four tests represent our minimum requirements ahead of this autumn’s Spending Review for determining the effectiveness of the government’s response. We’ve seen positive steps from government in adopting our recommendations on reducing water leakage and tackling waste. But those were the easy wins.

'Real change is required if we are to boost our economic prosperity and quality of life up to 2050. That requires the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy to be bold and transformative and commit to major changes like devolving funding for cities transport.'

The Government backtracked on giving the NIC statutory status, however Sir John has insisted it would still hold the Government’s 'feet to the fire' in the lead up the Spending Review, which will allocate funding to departments for the 2020−21 financial year, and possibly beyond.

The Commission published the country’s first National Infrastructure Assessment last year - it is required to produce such a report every Parliament - providing detailed recommendations for the future of the UK’s energy, transport, water and technology networks.

The Government is required to formally respond with its own strategy. Where it rejects the NIC's recommendations ministers must provide a clear reason why.

NIC's recommendations include calls for a 'national, visible charging network for electric vehicles through subsidies in areas where the private sector won’t deliver in the short term, and through councils allocating a portion of their parking spaces for future charging points'.

It has also called for additional powers and £43bn funding between now and 2040 to city leaders to develop strategies for improving their local transport networks and delivering new job opportunities and homes.

 

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