Philip Hammond has been set a four-point test to demonstrate that the government’s upcoming National Infrastructure Strategy is fit for purpose.
Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has written to the chancellor of the exchequer outlining the four tests that the government’s strategy must meet when it is published this autumn.
Sir John said: “The government must not deliver a weak strategy that pays only lip service to our recommendations. We don’t want to hear vague promises and a restatement of existing commitments.”
Sir John writes that the NIC’s National Infrastructure Assessment, which was published last year, provides a good template for boosting the UK’s long-term growth.
“If instead the strategy only pays lip service to our work, restating existing policy and offering vague promises in addition, it is likely to have the opposite effect.”
The four tests, which he said the NIC will use during its next review of the government’s progress on the NIC in early 2020, are:
- set the government’s expectations for infrastructure funding and policy up to 2050; beyond the immediate spending review period
- backing up any government endorsement of a NIC recommendation with a specific plan, with clear deadlines so that the commission can easily check progress;
- a commitment to provide investment of at least 1.2 per cent of GDP a year on infrastructure;
- a genuine commitment to change in areas like nuclear power and electric vehicles where the NIC is pushing for “fundamental policy changes” rather than “tweaks”
Sir John identified the creation of a “truly national” electric vehicle charging network as one of the areas that would demonstrate that the strategy is credible.
He writes that the commission will seek to engage directly with the key infrastructure departments over the coming months to understand how they are approaching its recommendations.
The former 2012 Olympic Games supremo adds that he is “keen” to meet the chancellor soon after the summer to discuss progress and give an update on the commission’s wider work, including its study of the economic regulation of utilities.