Infrastructure and the Comprehensive Spending Review

 ICE has been working to influence the  Comprehensive Spending Review, so it reflects the importance of infrastructure in our future.  Following Chancellor Rishi Sunak's  update on Wednesday, 25 November, check back regularly here to see what we’ve been doing.  

The HM Treasury’s CSR will set out the government’s spending plans for the remainder of this parliament.
The HM Treasury’s CSR will set out the government’s spending plans for the remainder of this parliament.
After delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK Government is today (Wednesday 25 November) setting out in detail how they will fulfil their promise of long-term infrastructure development and investment in communities across the country, with the publication of a Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).  The HM Treasury’s CSR  sets out the government’s spending plans for the parliament. The review is wide ranging, and open for external stakeholders to submit representations. ICE will be submitting a response shortly. 

The Institution engaged in a range of activities in the lead- up to the final CSR publication, with a view to influencing decisions on areas from investment to policy trade-offs. 

From ICE President Paul Sheffield giving evidence in front of the Treasury Select Committee and participating in events at both the Labour Party and Conservative Party conferences, to hosting roundtable discussions with industry leaders, ICE has used its influence as the home of infrastructure to ensure investment is focused on long-term demand drivers and  change at a systemic level.

Check back regularly for updates on our work in this area.

Latest news

Design requirements championed by infrastructure leaders – 26 November

The inclusion of a requirement for Design Champions within the National Infrastructure Strategy has been welcomed by ICE and other industry stakeholders.

Alongside a stipulation for all infrastructure projects to have a board-level design champion in place by the end of 2021, this week’s announcement also stated that the National Infrastructure Commission’s Design Principles will be embedded throughout the project lifecycle.

As part of a collaborative project between ICE and NIC, with the objective of helping both organisations understand engineers’ views and attitudes towards the principles, and their wider experience of design, a survey was launched at a September ICE Strategy Session, which featured NIC Design Group Chair, Professor Sadie Morgan.

Professor Morgan commented yesterday: “We’re particularly pleased to see government back our recommendation for major national infrastructure projects to have a board-level design champion supported by a design panel, to help ensure schemes are built sustainably to a high standard, looking beyond their core function, to add value to communities and the natural environment.

“We will continue to encourage government and their project partners to use our Design Principles for National Infrastructure as a tool for achieving this. We hope today comes to be seen as a watershed moment in improving the quality of design across infrastructure for both local and national projects.”

Read more on the Government's National Infrastructure Strategy here.

Watch the ICE Strategy Session: What Makes Good Design, again below.

Strategy Session: What makes good design? 8th September 2020 from ICE Group on Vimeo.


‘Once in a generation’ investment in infrastructure – are the times really changing? - 26 Nov

Yesterday’s Spending Review set out plans for a ‘once in a generation investment in infrastructure’, alongside big changes to the way projects and programmes are appraised.

In this Infrastructure Blog, ICE Policy Manager, David Hawkes gets down to the nitty gritty detail.

The Chancellor confirmed that capital spending on infrastructure in 2020-21 will total £100 billion, £27 billion of which will be allocated for economic infrastructure. This includes almost £19 billion for transport investment, £1 billion for a Carbon Capture and Storage Infrastructure Fund and £240 million for a Net Zero Hydrogen Fund.

While this funding is welcome, ICE would like to see a clearer, more robust plan and funding levels for the kind of decarbonisation programme needed for the net-zero transformation.

The £4 billion ‘levelling-up’ fund for regions across England to bid into for helping to pay for infrastructure projects, is good news but requires more detail in the government’s English Devolution and Local Government White Paper next year.

The new greener Green Book includes welcome alignment with ICE policy calls for the 2050 net-zero target to be embedded within the Green Book appraisal.

Now the devil lies in the detail. ICE will continue to ask policymakers to clarify how exactly all these bits of the puzzle fit together, to ensure national objectives can be achieved.


All-Party Parliamentary Group welcomes Spending Review – 25 Nov

Andrew Jones MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure, welcomed the Chancellor’s focus on infrastructure in the Spending Review and the certainty that the publication of the National Infrastructure Strategy Gives industry.

Watch a clip of Wednesday's Commons debate on the Spending Review below.

House Of Commons - Rishi Sunak from ICE Group on Vimeo.

Last month the APPGI, which the ICE acts as Secretariate for, hosted a meeting to look at what the UK Government could learn from other countries on the role of infrastructure as part of the economic recovery from covid-19.

You can find out more here.


£4bn fund for ‘levelling up’ – what does this mean for infrastructure? - 25 Nov

Included in the National Infrastructure Strategy today was the Chancellor’s announcement of a £4bn Levelling Up Fund to be set up for regions across England to bid into, to help pay for infrastructure projects.

The announcement of the fund is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to ‘level up’, which ICE has been trying to gain clarity on. Alongside it came the plans for a new UK Infrastructure Bank to be headquartered in the north of England.

ICE Regional Directors Penny Marshall, Yorkshire and Humber, and North East, and Emma Antrobus, North West welcomed the news, saying “The Chancellor’s commitment to invest in every corner of the UK is welcome.

“Further details are required, but if used effectively, the £4bn levelling-up fund could provide the opportunity for ‘left behind’ communities in the North of England to access funding to deliver the infrastructure needed to transform their places.

“However, there is still more work to be done to develop the frameworks and governance that are necessary to improve regional infrastructure provision.”

Miranda Housden, ICE Region Director South West, added:

“Announcements on capital investment, a new infrastructure bank and importantly, the focus on regional levelling-up are welcomed by ICE South West.

“Recognition of the need to better support organisations, such as WECA and Western Gateway, will help pave the way for the better delivery of infrastructure across the region.

“However, we still need to see the details, and only time will tell how successfully the South West will be able to access the new levelling-up funding pot and how quickly this can be implemented to ensure the region isn’t left behind.”

Ben McGrath, ICE East Midlands Regional Chair, and Gbenga Oludotun, ICE West Midlands Regional Chair, added:
 
“This ‘once in a generation’ investment in infrastructure is welcomed. The £4 billion ‘levelling up’ fund for the regions offers more opportunity for projects and initiatives which meet our needs. Further details are required, to see how this fund can deliver improvements to local communities, while supporting economic recovery. And, there is still more work to be done to develop the frameworks and governance that are necessary to improve regional infrastructure provision.

“It is right that that the net-zero target is a priority in the National Infrastructure Strategy, although more information and long-term certainty is needed on funding, to help ensure our sector can play its part in achieving it.”
 

More clarity and government action will be required as we head towards the mayoral elections in 2021.


Good things come to those who wait? A closer look at the National Infrastructure Strategy - 25 Nov

Was the long-awaited National Infrastructure Strategy worth the wait? We take a deeper dive into the details over on the Infrastructure Blog.

Ben Goodwin, ICE Lead Policy Manager, looks at some of the progress Government has made in key areas, such as the rollout of full-fibre broadband and planning for a move to electric vehicles.

He also explores why the announcement of a new UK Infrastructure Bank is good news, and why ICE has consistently advocated for a bank like this to be created.

We discuss how less progress has been made around the frameworks needed to better devolve infrastructure planning and delivery. 

Overall, today’s NIS is a satisfying moment for our sector, and will help give the supply chain and investors the confidence that is so badly needed – particularly as we look to the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Read more over on the Infrastructure Blog.


National Infrastructure Strategy published today meets long-term ICE calls – 25 Nov

Publication of the long-awaited National Infrastructure Strategy should give clarity on the direction of travel for infrastructure investment.

ICE has long called on government to publish an infrastructure strategy that is long-term, holistic and evidence-based, using the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC)’s National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) as its framework.

Chris Richards, ICE Director of Policy, said of the strategy:

“Although we need to review the details, we are optimistic that the publication of this National Infrastructure Strategy will provide clear strategic direction on future infrastructure interventions. Ensuring a long-term approach is essential in the planning and delivery of projects that meet the needs of society.

“It is good that a number of the NIC’s recommendations taken on board, but more importantly this is a crucial, and satisfying moment, for those who support the principle of policymaking on major infrastructure investment being guided by evidence.”

We have consistently championed the work of the NIC, having previously called for government to establish and empower it. ICE also directly informed the NIA through our own wide-ranging National Needs Assessment published in 2016, which took stock of the UK’s infrastructure and outlined the steps needed for a national infrastructure system that is efficient, affordable and sustainable.

Also announced, was the development of a UK Infrastructure Bank, which ICE has called on government to establish since publishing our State of the Nation 2018: Infrastructure Investment. Such an institution will help lower the cost of greener technologies and projects needed to accelerate decarbonization, and is particularly important given the UK’s expected loss of access to the European Investment Bank after Brexit. We believe this new bank will have a major role to play in supporting the transition of the UK’s economy to net-zero emissions by 2050, which ICE outlined in our recent policy paper on the need for a Net-Zero Infrastructure Plan.


New Green Book is also green by nature - 25 Nov

The government’s Green Book now ‘lives up to its name, with a bright green thread running through it’ thanks to net-zero being put at its heart.

That’s the view of ICE in response to the government’s updated Green Book guidance, published today. 

The Green Book is guidance issued by HM Treasury (HMT) on how to evaluate infrastructure policies, programmes and projects. Government guidance for assessing infrastructure needs to be fair, clear and accurate if we’re to get the infrastructure we all need for society to function. 

Today’s refreshed Green Book emphasises the importance of establishing clear project and programme objectives right from the get-go. There is also better guidance on environmental appraisal, which will help move the UK towards the net-zero target.

All of this reflects a number of calls ICE has made on how to evolve the Green Book, which we put forward in an initial discussion paper and consultation, an evidence gathering roundtable with HMT and most recently, our findings on how the Green Book can be reformed to achieve better outcomes from infrastructure investment.


ICE responds to Chancellor’s Spending Review announcements – 25 Nov

Chancellor Rishi Sunak

ICE has called today’s infrastructure announcements ‘a game-changer' in terms of delivering an infrastructure system that works better for the public.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered his Spending Review to the House – which you can read in full here.  Alongside this was the publication of the long-awaited National Infrastructure Strategy (NIS), which includes the government’s formal response to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC)’s 2018 National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA).

Responding to the Chancellor's speech to the House of Commons, Nick Baveystock, ICE Director General, said:

“Today’s announcements could genuinely be a game-changer in delivering an infrastructure system that works better for the public. An infrastructure strategy gives clarity on the direction of travel for investment, and an infrastructure bank will help lower the cost of greener technologies and projects needed to ramp up decarbonisation. The Green Book now lives up to its name, with a bright green thread running through it to better weigh environmental costs and benefits alongside social and economic needs.

“Expected consultations on financing a net-zero transition and exploring the options for greening our electricity will be an essential start. However, this is an integrated challenge. We need joined-up plans to achieve real change, for example to ensure polluting forms of transport get phased out as greener sources of electricity come online, alongside the introduction of measures to replace the evaporation of fuel duty receipts. Connecting these dots is an area policymakers should now focus their effort and attention.”


 

Chancellor to publish Spending Review and National Infrastructure Strategy – 25 Nov

Government will outline their long-term plans for infrastructure today, with the publication of the long-awaited National Infrastructure Strategy.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will address the House of Commons at around 12.30pm, where he will give details of the strategy alongside the one-year Spending Review.

Announcements are also expected around the reformed Treasury Green Book, a UK Investment Bank and a UK Share Prosperity Fund.

 ICE will be following the announcements and sharing commentary on the impact of these throughout the day. Check back regularly for updates, and follow us on Twitter @ice_engineers.

To watch the Chancellor’s statement live, follow @HMTreasury.

ICE’s publishes recommendations for Green Book reform – 18 November

How to achieve better outcomes from infrastructure investment, through reforming the government’s appraisal handbook, have been outlined in ICE’s latest position paper.
 
Following a consultation of ICE members and other interested stakeholders, ICE has published a paper outlining its recommendations for reforming the government’s Green Book guidance issued by HM Treasury on how to appraise policies, programmes and projects. 

A review of the Green Book has been underway, focusing on the government’s stated aim to ‘level up’ the country. The new guidance is expected to be issued alongside the Spending Review next week (25 Nov).  This review offered the opportunity for the Green Book to better address the long-term challenges that the UK faces.

The paper sets out why ICE believes that the Green Book itself provides the correct tools to address strategic national objectives, but requires better application, as well as guidance and clarity on the detailed policy context that it operates in from the government. 

David Hawkes, ICE Policy Manager, outlines more detail on the paper, including its recommendations over on the Infrastructure Blog. The full report can be read here.

ICE’s outlines policy choices needed to transition infrastructure towards a net-zero future as part of a Labour panel discussion - 11 November

A long-standing ICE policy recommendation, to create a UK Investment Bank, has been adopted as part of new policies put forward by Labour.

In a report, published yesterday (10 Nov), about achieving a green economic recovery from Covid-19, Labour recommended to government the need to create a new bank, to compensate for the loss of access to the European Investment Bank after Brexit. ICE reiterated this same recommendation, and the need for such an entity to have a sustainability mandate, as part of its submission to the government’s Spending Review, due on 25 November.

At the launch event, Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds MP presented the key findings of Labour’s report, which covers a range of topics and questions linked to skills, investment and aligning policy to deliver tangible progress towards net-zero.  

Speaking as part of the panel, ICE's Director of Policy, Chris Richards, used the opportunity to again set out expectations of what is required in the upcoming Spending Review, particularly on the creation of a net-zero infrastructure policy plan. 

He highlighted the need for the creation of a net-zero infrastructure skills plan to identify current skills gaps, emerging skills requirements, barriers to upskilling and retraining and education/ training requirements to support the transition of infrastructure towards net-zero. 

You can read more about Labour's proposals for a green recovery here.  Or watch a recording of the panel discussion here


Skills, coordination and leadership discussed as part of a Presidential Breakfast with the Shadow Chancellor - 28 October

As part of the run-up to the Spending Review, ICE hosted a virtual Presidential Breakfast with Anneliese Dodds MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Shadow Chancellor led us in conversation on the main challenges that need to be solved if the infrastructure system is to play its full role in achieving sustainable outcomes. These outcomes include decarbonising to meet the net-zero target and tackling regional inequalities. Skills, the role of local leadership and the need for coherence and coordination all came to the fore as part of the discussion. Key points raised in the meeting include:  

  • Coordination is going to be necessary if we are going to make real progress on the transformational change we need and this will require leadership, particular as this change will require decisions to be made on politically sensitive trade-offs.  
  • The roundtable highlighted that during the pandemic, we have seen clear examples of what good coordination can achieve, with industries working with the government on solutions to burning challenges, particularly at a sub-national level. Leadership at the local and regional level was singled out as a critical factor to pull together diffuse strands of activity towards a targeted outcome. Acting at this level also helps to cut across party politics to look at what places need; local action can also be nimbler and more responsive compared to effort at the national level.  
  • Attendees highlighted the need to increase available talent as a significant challenge and opportunity. Many of the issues on improving the skills system are long-standing, the need to decarbonise presents a chance to train up technical and civil engineering talent for the long-term, as these will be needed to grapple with the challenges that will arise from transitioning the economy to low carbon.  
  • Attendees highlighted that two ingredients were needed to pave the way for rapid progress, money and long-term certainty. Money to pay for the transition and long-term certainty to support capacity building across industry, local and regional government to drive change.

With the Spending Review confirmed for 25 November and expectations of associated announcements such as the National Infrastructure Strategy going ahead, we will hopefully start to see a coherent picture of the future before the year is out.


ICE sets out key CSR asks in submissions to select committee inquiries - 21 October

During August and September the ICE policy and public affairs team made submissions to three parliamentary select committee inquiries outlining a range of policy and investment priorities for the UK’s infrastructure networks in the months and years ahead.

The inquiries that evidence was submitted to were:

Now that each committee has published ICE’s submissions the Institution is able to share them publicly itself. The recommendations and interventions in the submissions naturally align with the representation ICE made to the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Across the submissions the messages remain clear.

In the short to medium-term more investment is required in full-fibre and 5G rollout, and in active travel infrastructure, to support more remote forms of working and living. However, longer-term infrastructure drivers remain unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic and there continues to be a strategic need for investment in traditional transport networks and in programmes aimed at greening the infrastructure sector.

Improving project delivery also remains paramount and it is increasingly necessary that a net-zero infrastructure plan is put in place to ensure that the sector plays its part in meeting the 2050 net-zero emissions target.

Read our blog


Deliverability of infrastructure remains key priority, says Chancellor – 8 October

Ensuring deliverability of key infrastructure proposals remains a key priority, says the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

While visiting One Great George Street recently, Chancellor Rishi Sunak emphasized that a return on investment, addressing the nation's priorities and deliverability are set to be the key factors that determine future infrastructure investment by the UK government.

The ICE-hosted event, run by the Enterprise Forum, was part of this year’s Conservative Party Conference.

ICE’s Director of Policy Chris Richards spoke to the Chancellor, emphasizing the importance of improving infrastructure delivery as part of the upcoming Spending Review.

Read more about the event here

Skills, and investment in infrastructure vital to pandemic recovery, says Minister - 7 October

“Skills and investment in infrastructure will be vital to the [Covid-19] recovery.” That was the message from Gillian Keegan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, this morning at the Conservative Party conference.  

She was speaking at an event that explored the priorities for upcoming policy and spending decisions in the UK, Building a Better Future: The Role of Engineering in Society and the Spending Review. Keegan was joined on the panel by Amanda Solloway, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science, Research and Innovation, Professor Jim Hall, Fellow of Institution of Civil Engineers, and members of the National Engineering Policy Centre.

The panel discussed the need to ensure that we have the skills to deliver the future engineering challenges and to drive innovation amongst the engineering sector. Key in this is having a strategic workforce plan, something ICE supports in our State of the Nation report  where we call for an Infrastructure Skills Plan.  

Dr Hillary Levers of Engineering UK also pointed to research  showing that there the pandemic has been lead to a change in future generations’young peoples priorities for what they want from a career, with many more looking for job security and not only the chance to deliver solutions to the challenges faced by society. This is why more than ever, the Government needs to publish its long-term vision in its National Infrastructure Plan.

Speaking on behalf of ICE, Professor Jim Hall said: 

“Amidst the urgency of economic recovery from Covid-19, we should not lose sight of the fact that providing sustainable and resilient infrastructure requires long-term thinking and planning.  

“Infrastructure faces many challenges, including the need to reduce carbon emissions to net zero, build resilience to climate-related shocks and provide quality services to a growing and ageing population whose behaviour is changing.  

“As civil engineers, we understand the imperative need to lower carbon emissions, and have the skills to do this, especially with technology making infrastructure smarter and more responsive to people’s needs.” 

Watch the event in full here.


Professional engineering institutions submit joint evidence on CSR – 30 Sept

The need for a National Infrastructure Strategy has been reiterated in a joint submission, put forward by the National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC) today.

The submission, which is in addition to the Institution’s individual submission outlined the need for a strategy that directly addresses the recommendations made by the National Infrastructure Commission in its 2018 assessment and in its subsequent work on resilience, regulation, renewables and the 2050 net-zero target.

The Institution fed in views and evidence to the submission as part of the NEPC partnership, which is comprised of 43 of the UK’s eminent engineering organisations. The joint submission emphasises the need for long-term plan for the UK’s infrastructure networks. Alongside it, the NEPC has published a letter to the Chancellor which sets out the four key areas innovation; education and skills; net-zero and infrastructure that are covered in the submission and can be read here.

The sumbission backs ICE’s long-standing position that this will provide the construction supply chain and investors in infrastructure with the confidence to forward plan business activities with more certainty; ensuring that the public gets the infrastructure that it needs now and well into the future.

Read the NEPC submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review


ICE submits representation to Comprehensive Spending Review - 29 Sept 

The Comprehensive Spending Review is an opportunity for the government to state its priorities, set out crucial funding and financing plans, and take the lead on delivering a net-zero future. 

In its representation to the government’s review, published today, ICE sets out the five key components needed to maximise the delivery of sustainable outcomes through infrastructure. 

Chris Richards, ICE Director of Policy discusses more about the submission over on the Infrastructure Blog.  You can read the full submission here

ICE gives evidence to Parliamentary inquiry on infrastructure - 24 Sept

The need for long-term clarity and certainty on the Government’s priorities for infrastructure was outlined by industry leaders yesterday.

Paul Sheffield, ICE President, alongside the Infrastructure and Projects Authority and National Infrastructure Commission, gave evidence to the Treasury Select Committee, as part of its inquiry on infrastructure.

In response to questions from the Committee, Sheffield and the other witnesses outlined why a National Infrastructure Strategy was essential in allowing the sector to deliver the infrastructure necessary for a sustainable future. They also discussed topics including the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, the impact of Covid-19 on infrastructure priorities, incentivising private finance and the 2050 net-zero target.

In his latest Presidential Blog,  Paul Sheffield further outlines what he discussed at the Committee  . You can also watch the full session again on Parliament TV


Government “kicking the can down the road on infrastructure decisions” – 22 Sept

The government is “kicking the can down the road on infrastructure systems”, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury has said.

Speaking at the Labour Party conference, Bridget Phillipson MP said the government’s delayed response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s 2018 assessment was adversely impacting the economy.

Phillipson was speaking as part of a fringe event, jointly hosted by the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Royal Academy of Engineering, IET and Engineering UK discussing engineering priorities for the Comprehensive Spending Review.

ICE Council member Blessing Danha was also on the panel. She said:

“In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s easy to forget the existing challenges we’re still facing. With a population set to reach 75million in the coming decades, our legally binding target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and clear regional inequalities, brought into stark contrast by the Covid-19 lockdown – we need action. Maximising the use of the UK's infrastructure to support sustainable outcomes in all of these areas should be the driving force behind the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.”


The importance of a Comprehensive Spending Review – 21 Sept

Throughout the past year, the Government has repeatedly talked up the role of infrastructure in boosting the economy, particularly in areas of the country that have previously been overlooked for investment.  
 

The Institution hopes to see details included within the CSR that will take a long-term approach to infrastructure planning and spending. Such commitments will help set the UK on a path to maximise the use of the UK’s infrastructure system to support sustainable outcomes for the infrastructure sector and society. 

In particular, ICE hopes to see investment decisions driven by a joined-up, evidence-based National Infrastructure Strategy; progress on addressing the policy trade-offs that are needed to ensure the UK’s infrastructure system plays its full role in transitioning to net-zero; a levelling-up strategy that focuses on building regional capability to identify, finance, fund and deliver their own infrastructure requirements; and a focus on whole-system change in how infrastructure is delivered and a move away from tactical, project by project, approaches to achieving better, faster and greener delivery. 

Chris Richards, ICE Director of Policy, said: “While, of course, Covid-19 has changed things, the UK’s overall long-term infrastructure drivers and challenges remain the same. Our population will continue to grow, we must adapt in order to achieve the 2050 net-zero target, and our entrenched regional inequalities must be addressed. These areas must remain the priorities for infrastructure investment, which we hope to see reflected in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.”

Further reading

In August, Chris Richards outlined the five key things to look out for in the CSR. You can also read about the next steps following our six-week consultation on the ‘levelling-up’ agenda.  

Covid-19 has certainly had an impact on infrastructure systems, and some important changes will need to happen to ensure future infrastructure provision is sufficient.  

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