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Covid-19 and the new normal for infrastructure systems – next steps

13 August 2020

This white paper examines the impact of Covid-19 on the future shape of infrastructure systems in the UK.

The paper considers in detail what hasn’t changed as a result of Covid-19, what has changed, the role of infrastructure as part of the UK’s economic recovery and what changes are needed in how we deliver infrastructure.

The recommendations set out in the paper follow a public consultation that ICE ran earlier in the summer.

  • Long-term planning should still be driven by the UK’s existing long-term challenges, including population growth, meeting the 2050 net-zero emissions target and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • To improve approaches to long-term planning, corresponding investment should be made in digitalisation of new and existing infrastructure assets alongside growing the digital skills necessary for that transition. Future infrastructure forecasting should use scenarios to navigate the current period of uncertainty.
  • New infrastructure investments in the short and medium term, particularly as part of any stimulus, should focus on accelerating the roll-out of both full-fibre and 5G communications infrastructure, and greater active travel (cycling and walking) provision.
  • Increased funding should be made available for the National Digital Twin Programme and the creation of digital twins should be mandated for all major projects and programmes.
  • To support increased use of more productive, enterprise-based delivery models, a standardised scorecard should be developed to prioritise, identify and weight non-financial outcomes for major projects and should-cost modelling should be encouraged to inform procurement, with the potential for this to be mandated.
  • Public procurement and funding models should become more intelligent and outcomes-based, so that communities and businesses get the infrastructure that will deliver the greatest social, economic and environmental benefits.
  • To support a shift towards leadership based on a systems-integration skillset, further study should be conducted to identify the strategies, structures and people needed to deliver major infrastructure systems interventions in the future, learning lessons from recent projects.

This Infrastructure Client Group and ICE White Paper will form the basis of future work by the Construction Leadership Council’s Infrastructure Working Group as part of the Construction Roadmap to Recovery Plan. More information can be found at the Construction Leadership Council website.

Covid-19 and the new normal for infrastructure systems – next steps

Content type: Policy

Authors: ICE

  • Ben Goodwin, lead policy manager at ICE