Infrastructure provides the crucial link that allows people, goods and information to move freely and for communities and businesses to prosper. It is fundamental to delivering a low carbon economy, a sustainable transport network, to enable improvements in digital communications and to manage water, waste and risk of flooding. Alongside these areas, Intellectual capital is vital for attracting inward investment, stimulating innovation and allowing the UK to be competitive in the global knowledge economy. The government wants a step-change in both the level and type of investment from the past. As economic infrastructure drives competiveness and economic growth, it must be delivered in a smarter and more efficient way to ensure long-term growth. The proposals aim to unlock private sector investment on an unprecedented scale by providing a long-term strategy and removing the barriers that hinder funding models.
A new approach is demanded by future challenges, as well as short-term economic benefits. Parts of the UK’s infrastructure are ageing and becoming outdated. Added to this is increasing demand in levels of usage of existing networks, and, as the population grows, expectations are rising in tandem. Consumers desire faster broadband connections, quicker and more reliable public transport and energy security. Climate change poses significant problems; it is key that investment is spent mitigating and adapting to the challenges of hazardous and erratic conditions. Legally binding targets mean that carbon emissions must be reduced and a revolution is needed in the UK’s energy generation mix to ensure long-term energy security. The significance of maintenance, resilience and renewal of existing assets could not be more evident.
The Infrastructure Plan set out how to create the right conditions for private sector investment and how more effective and efficient funding models can be developed. Greater long-term policy aims to attract increased investment. The establishment of the Green Investment Bank, with government-owned assets adding to the £1 billion of funding, should see a commitment to sustainable infrastructure and help stimulate investment in the green economy. Support for greater localism can help drive innovative local infrastructure solutions that are more cost effective and efficient. Schemes such as the Regional Growth Fund, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Tax Increment Financing can introduce new funding and borrowing powers to local authorities. The barriers to efficient delivery of infrastructure projects do need to be tackled as the UK remains one of the most expensive countries in which to build infrastructure.
The Funding for Infrastructure Projects: Supporting Invaluable Economic Growth conference will look at how renewed investment in public infrastructure is vital for the economy to flourish. The speakers will discuss the vision to bring long-term stability to investment and explore innovations in finance, the potential of public-private partnerships and new investment models. Delegates will hear how best to secure private investment and improve infrastructure on a regional and national level.