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Infrastructure blog

ICE continues to spark debate in Parliament on post-Covid funding for public transport

22 September 2021

Rounding up the latest policy and political engagement activities from ICE.

ICE continues to spark debate in Parliament on post-Covid funding for public transport
What ICE Policy and Public Affairs has achieved so far in 2021

A discussion paper by ICE Policy and Public Affairs on how much we value our public transport systems post-Covid-19 continues to receive support in Parliament.

Sarah Olney MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Transport and for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, drew on our paper to frame a written parliamentary question to ask the government about future investment and spending on public transport post-pandemic.

It was encouraging to see the response to the questions raised in our paper by Transport Minister Rachel Maclean MP, who previously joined an ICE Presidential Breakfast in April to discuss her Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

We stand ready to work with policymakers from all parties to ensure this urgent issue remains high on the political agenda.

Introducing ICE Policy Fellows

ICE has just confirmed our three new ICE Policy Fellows - experienced members who can support our engagement with decision-makers and use their insight to help our work in guiding the creation of effective infrastructure.

Our new Policy Fellows with their focuses are:

  • Steve Lee for Improving UK Infrastructure Delivery;
  • Colin Taylor for Sub-National Infrastructure Decarbonisation;
  • Simon Grubb for Funding and Financing UK Infrastructure.

Sharing our expertise

Last month, Jonathan Spruce, ICE Trustee for Policy and External affairs, spoke at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum’s policy conference on Improving transport connectivity between the nations of the UK.

Jonathan’s emphasis on the need for strategic infrastructure planning and better coordination when considering how to improve transport connectivity between UK nations also follows on from our recent APPG Infrastructure event on the Union Connectivity Review.

Continuing our focus on net zero, ICE trustee Jim Hall spoke at the UK Sustainable Infrastructure Policy and Investment Summit on The role of infrastructure in helping to achieve the 2050 net-zero target.

This month, we hosted Sir John Armitt and James Heath of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to discuss the NIC’s forthcoming Baseline Assessment’s cross-cutting themes and challenges that will be addressed in the second National Infrastructure Assessment. Over the summer, ICE consulted on what should be in NIA2, and we plan to publish our findings shortly.

Welcoming the TIP

Finally, we welcomed the government’s newly updated Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030 (TIP) and National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline (the Pipeline.) The TIP seeks to improve infrastructure productivity and performance, and the Pipeline provides long-term visibility of where economic and social infrastructure is being planned and who is building it.

Back in July, we were pleased to hold an early-look Presidential Breakfast on the TIP and Pipeline with Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman, helping to serve as a final sounding board for the government on the direction of travel of these documents.

You can read our insights on the new TIP here, and how the new Pipeline aligns with the vision in the National Infrastructure Strategy here.

What ICE Policy and Public Affairs has achieved so far in 2021

Being recognised and referenced in policy debates

We’ve secured references to ICE’s work in the following documents:

Supporting the scrutiny and development of infrastructure policy

We’ve twice this year put forward an expert witness, ICE Fellow Jonathan Spruce, to give evidence to the Transport Select Committee – in March on its inquiry into the delivery and appraisal of major transport projects and again in June to its inquiry into smart motorways.

ICE President Rachel Skinner also provided a private briefing on infrastructure and transport to members of the new House of Lords Built Environment Committee.

ICE Policy and Public Affairs launched a discussion paper and consultation on what should be in the second National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA).

This autumn, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) will publish its baseline assessment of the current state of key infrastructure sectors, along with proposals for the strategic themes and main priorities of the second NIA expected in 2023.

Having been closely involved in both the establishment of the NIC in 2013 and the first NIA in 2018, our consultation asks what the core considerations of NIA2 should be – including net-zero, levelling-up and climate resilience – and explores which demand drivers have changed since the first NIA.

Through this paper, we’re seeking to shape the wider infrastructure policy debate, consistently and over a number of years, by examining what our long-term infrastructure should look like – and most importantly, ensure it delivers the sustainable future outcomes we need it to.

Supporting senior politicians to test their thinking on infrastructure policy

John Penrose, Rachel Maclean (top), Dr Alan Whitehead, Chris Heaton-Harris, and Jesse Norman (bottom). Image credit: Richard Townshend, David Woolfall, Chris McAndrew
John Penrose, Rachel Maclean (top), Dr Alan Whitehead, Chris Heaton-Harris, and Jesse Norman (bottom). Image credit: Richard Townshend, David Woolfall, Chris McAndrew

We’ve virtually hosted the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman MP, as part of our APPG Infrastructure to share his priorities for 2021, and again this month at one of our Presidential Breakfasts to discuss the government’s forthcoming update to the Transforming Infrastructure Performance programme.

We also hosted decision-makers on key political issues, such as levelling-up with John Penrose MP, Chair of the Conservative Policy Forum, discussion of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan with Transport Minister Rachel Maclean MP, and infrastructure’s role in driving the post-pandemic economic recovery with Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP.

Meanwhile, Dr Alan Whitehead MP led a discussion on how the UK's electricity system can be improved to help transition to net-zero.

As the House rose for summer recess, our APPG Infrastructure welcomed Sir Peter Hendy CBE to update on the progress of his Union Connectivity Review (UCR); APPGI Chair Andrew Jones MP subsequently shared his thoughts on the highly topical debate around transport connectivity across the UK here, and you can read ICE’s own evidence to the UCR here.

The role of ICE's Policy and Public Affairs

As a public benefit charity, ICE has a responsibility to help policymakers make better decisions and legislation. Every decision on the evolution of the infrastructure system comes back to a political decision – either one that’s already made or one that needs to be made.

ICE manages its approach to this through the work of its Policy and Public Affairs team.

Public affairs describes an organisation’s relationship with a wide range of stakeholders, politicians and civil servants being key ones. We engage with these stakeholders because we want to explain ICE’s policies and views on important issues, like how we pay for infrastructure, or how we build infrastructure that better meets people’s needs.

What exactly are we hoping to achieve?

We want to help engineers deliver infrastructure systems that underpin the creation of a more sustainable world.

The overarching aim of ICE Policy and Public Affairs is to influence infrastructure policy at a systems level. Two significant ICE policy papers embody this aim:

How do we know we're making progress?

Infrastructure is seen as a driver of socio-economic growth by decision-makers across the political divide, and across administrations. ICE Policy and Public Affairs supports the best decisions being made in the public's interest and we judge success in three ways.

We are making progress if ICE’s expertise and insight is:

  1. Recognised and referenced in infrastructure policy debates.
  2. Sought for scrutinising and developing infrastructure policy.
  3. Able to support senior politicians test their thinking on infrastructure policy.

We will keep members updated on our key activities against these objectives in this blog.

  • Joanna Gonet, lead public affairs manager at ICE