The Government has shown an “inability to make smart decisions on badly needed infrastructure”, a report has found.
The report by the Institute for Government think tank found that the UK’s “short-sighted” approach to major rail, road and energy projects compared badly with European neighbours like France and the Netherlands, with improvements delivered “late, over budget and in some cases not at all”.
After the collapse of contractor Carillion, the report warned that ministers favour private finance models for delivering public infrastructure projects despite “limited evidence” that they offer better value for money.
The report called for the Government to:
1. Draw up an infrastructure strategy for the whole country
2. Develop evidence on different finance options
3. Establish a Commission for Public Engagement to involve local communities in major projects
4. Give the National Infrastructure Commission greater independence
Nick Davies, associate director at the Institute for Government, said: “The UK desperately needs an infrastructure strategy to address regional inequalities, worsening productivity levels and the housing crisis.
“But the Government’s decision-making process remains short-sighted and major infrastructure projects cost the taxpayer more than they should.
“While the UK needs to invest more in infrastructure, investments must be made wisely. Picking the most cost-effective options at every stage – from project selection to finance option – is critical.”
The report, which followed a year-long investigation, found that the Government “does not have a long-term approach to infrastructure and often fails to make timely decisions on individual projects”.
As a result, the quality of the UK’s infrastructure is “not as good as it could or should be”.