The Government has made a public commitment to increase investment in infrastructure as part of an ‘infrastructure revolution', with Budget 2020 allocating £640bn over five years. While some detail on how that will be spent has been announced, the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and crucially the National Infrastructure Strategy, will set out detail – hopefully in a strategic way. Well planned infrastructure has a role to play in addressing CSR priorities:
Strengthening the recovery and providing jobs and skills: Delivering infrastructure system interventions either maintenance, upgrade or creation, creates jobs both through construction and induced investment.
Levelling up economic opportunity across all national and regions: Infrastructure system investment can support ‘catching up’ on productivity, by addressing capacity constraints to growth or providing the basic building blocks for access to productivity-enhancing technologies.
Improving outcomes in public services and supporting the NHS: In particular, when infrastructure is viewed as a system supporting the wider social, environmental and economic system, new outcomes can be targeted. This includes investing in safe active travel infrastructure to unlock positive impacts on chronic diseases caused by a lack of physical activity.
Leading in the development of technologies that will support reaching net-zero: Transport and energy alone account for around 60% of the UK’s CO2 emissions, the infrastructure system is a ready testbed for driving the transition towards net-zero through new technologies and approaches.
For the UK’s infrastructure system to play its full role in meeting these priorities, the right framework needs to be put in place. CSR, and linked announcements, offers the opportunity to lay the foundations of that framework, to maximise the use of infrastructure in delivering sustainable outcomes. Our submission sets out the detail that sits behind that framework.
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