This post first appeared as a Huffington Post Blog.
It was George Osborne who, festooned with hard hat and high vis, proclaimed that ‘we are the builders.’ He looked a bit silly, but his message was serious. Building things is what real people do; it’s where real economic growth happens; and it’s a real investment in our shared future. Osborne invented the line, but it is Theresa May who is doing the building. As the BBC’s business editor put it, “from beating ourselves up for not being able to build anything, the UK is suddenly building everything.” Well, almost everything. Read more
Britain has an extraordinarily reliable power system. The lights flicker so rarely that it is easy to forget that the power system is actually a finely tuned and, in some ways, fragile machine, which breaks if electricity demand and supply are not in balance. Perturbations, such as the up-tick in demand after the FA Cup final, or the sudden outage of a coal plant, must be steadied within seconds. Read more
This post is by Green Alliance’s Dustin Benton, head of energy and resources, and Jonny Hazell, senior policy adviser.
Forget the theory: the first test of Britain’s new industrial strategy will be how it handles the steel crisis. Steel used to be the sign of an advanced manufacturing nation, and it still provides the sort of skilled employment outside London that Theresa May has promised to protect. It’s at the heart of the debate about exporting carbon emissions and Brexit Britain’s industrial future. The world will inevitably draw lessons from how it is handled.
This post is by Tim Chapman, director of the infrastructure design group at Arup.
Abating carbon emissions is becoming an increasingly important responsibility, and one in which developed countries such as the UK need to show technological leadership.
Until recently, the infrastructure sector wasn’t aware of its primary role in making this change. Read more
This post is by Mariana Mazzucato, RM Phillips professor in the economics of innovation, SPRU, University of Sussex, author of The entrepreneurial state: debunking public vs private sector myths and Green Alliance trustee.
Speaking at the start of the COP21 meeting in Paris, President Obama told delegates:
“We have proved that strong economic growth and a safer environment no longer have to conflict with one another; they can work in concert with one another.”
He’s right that a green economy need not come at the expense of growth. Policy makers must also now recognise that we cannot rely on the private sector to bring about the kind of radical reshaping of the economy that is required. As Bill Gates recently acknowledged, only the state can provide the kind of patient finance and direction required to make a decisive shift.
The government is in asset sale mode. The planned sale of the nationalised banks will set a new high watermark for capital raised, previously set by the BP privatisation, presided over by Margaret Thatcher in 1987.
The sale of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) is being pushed through, alongside the sale of Lloyds and RBS. But, the criteria by which these sales will be judged are quite different. The sale of the retail banks needs to maximise returns to the taxpayer through the share price achieved on the day of the sale. But, the sale of GIB shares needs to optimise return to taxpayers in the long term by securing the bank’s unique mission. Read more
George Osborne has two main objectives for government expenditure as chancellor: eliminate the deficit by cutting day to day spending and increase investment by prioritising capital spending.
As public expenditure has been reduced the chancellor has looked to the private sector to make up the shortfall. So far, this strategy has worked: 2010-14 saw cumulative growth in GDP of seven per cent, helped considerably by £40 billion growth in the private sector investment component of GDP over the same period, a rise of 16 per cent. This level of business investment was one of the strongest sources of growth the last parliament. Read more
This post is by Tony Burton, founder of Civic Voice and member of the National Infrastructure Planning Association’s Council.
Power, money, scale, legacy and to die for photo opportunities; it’s hardly surprising that politicians find big infrastructure projects irresistible. Now everyone’s at it. Read more
This post is by Huw Irranca-Davies MP. It first appeared on Labour List.
The infrastructure we use to travel, talk and power our homes and businesses is constantly being renewed and improved. When we get it right, it delivers outcomes that society hugely values such as easier and quicker commuting, allowing people more time to spend with their families, clean, plentiful water supplies and access to affordable energy. The best infrastructure is also future proof and helps to tackle climate change.
But infrastructure can also be a source of huge frustration and contention as debates erupt over new projects and interest groups get pitted against each other. Read more
If you start talking about infrastructure, few will accuse you of playing to the gallery. The term conjures up images of civil engineers, hard hats and a lot of concrete. Yet the choices we make about infrastructure in the coming years will have profound consequences for the UK’s future, influencing our ability to grow the economy, improve quality of life, protect against flooding and reduce CO2 emissions.
Voices across the political spectrum have highlighted our failure to deliver on infrastructure. Whoever wins the next election, it is likely there will be steps to enhance our ability to deliver major projects. Read more