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IPW: UK IPA publishes annual report, and Malaysian government promises more mega projects

25 July 2023

The UK’s Infrastructure Project Authority (IPA) provides update on major projects, and Malaysia takes long-term approach to infrastructure planning.

IPW: UK IPA publishes annual report, and Malaysian government promises more mega projects
An advert highlighting the benefits of HS2, one of the IPA’s major projects. Image credit: Shutterstock

IPA publishes 2023 update on the delivery of major UK projects

On 20 July, the UK’s Infrastructure Projects Authority (IPA) published its annual report on major projects being delivered under the Government Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP).

This portfolio outlines 244 projects with a total whole-life cost of £805bn, and monetised benefits of £758bn.

Overall, this is IPA’s biggest portfolio to date, demonstrating the success of its refocused approach to intervene earlier in the highest priority projects.

It also highlights the value of ‘front-end loading’, an IPA strategy that involves ‘getting the fundamentals right from the outset, so that projects are less likely to experience issues at a later stage’.

To further support major government projects, IPA has launched the Assessment and Accreditation scheme for government professionals, and other useful tools and products.

Update on project ratings

Since the 2022 annual report, 29 projects have left the GMPP.

Of these, 26 had a ‘green’ or ‘amber’ delivery confidence assessment.

In terms of whole-life cost, infrastructure and construction is the largest category across the portfolio.

There are currently 76 of these projects in the portfolio, up from 70 last year.

This includes HS2 Phases 1 and 2a which have been downgraded to ‘red’ since last year’s report.

While Phase 1 previously had an ‘amber’ rating (“appears feasible”), the downgrade is particularly steep for Phase 2a, which last year received a ‘green’ rating that signalled “successful delivery of the project on time, budget and quality appears highly likely”.

The Spring Budget confirmed the UK government’s commitment to delivering HS2 phase 2a between Birmingham and Crewe.

However, significant inflationary pressures and increased project costs have resulted in a decision to rephase this section by two years.

The Housing Infrastructure Fund has also been downgraded to ‘red’.

Global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine, and inflation are key causes of this, and have led ministers to re-evaluate current spending.

On the contrary, East West Rail (EWR) has been upgraded since 2022.

Of its three connection stages, the first remains ‘amber’ and stages two and three now also have this rating after previously being ‘red’.

The ICE’s view

IPA’s 2022-2023 report demonstrates the importance of infrastructure projects in fostering fiscal stability, growth across all regions, and innovation for the UK.

Over the past year, notable progress has been made in the face of a challenging macroeconomic environment.

That being said, projects in the infrastructure and construction category make up 70% of the GMPP’s ‘red’ confidence assessment.

The ICE will continue to monitor the development of these projects, while ensuring IPA principles on improving delivery are shared across our network of infrastructure professionals.

Malaysia’s government plans to push the development of infrastructure projects if re-elected

Malaysia’s Pakatan Harapan government has unveiled plans to implement its remaining mega infrastructure projects to alleviate the country’s traffic-related issues if given the mandate for a fourth term in the upcoming August election.

This will include the development of Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1), Light Rail Transit (LRT), the Penang South Islands (PSI), and the undersea tunnel and three paired roads project.

In a recent interview with Malay Mail, Caretaker Penang chief minister Chow Kon Yeow spoke on the government’s aim to get all these projects started in the next term, as they will likely take years to complete.

That being said, there are a number of large projects that are currently underway, such as Package Two: ‘a RM851 million highway project linking Thean Teik Expressway to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway’.

Connectivity is high up on the Pakatan Harapan government’s agenda, and ties into a broader aim to improve the lives of local communities and future generations.

The importance of this is encapsulated by the Penang2030 vision, which sets out to drive sustainable growth by focusing on four key themes.

Theme D is centred on the physical environment, which includes infrastructure and spatial planning.

There are seven years left to fulfil this vision, and the government is taking measures to ensure this is feasible.

The ICE’s view

Having a long-term vision that transcends political cycles is integral to achieving sustainable development.

The ICE continues to promote long-term infrastructure planning.

It has set out to provide key decision makers around the world with the tools they need to do this successfully through its Enabling Better Infrastructure (EBI) programme.

Find out more about Enabling Better Infrastructure: a report and resource hub for knowledge sharing and insight to help decision-makers put together long-term infrastructure plans.

  • Adina Nembhardt, EBI programme researcher at ICE