Danny Alexander, the Chief Treasury Secretary, told the UK’s business leaders: “Underground, overground, on-shore, offshore, wired or wireless, tarmac or train track. You name it, we’re building it.”
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The sentiment was expressed as the UK Government unveils its latest National Infrastructure Plan (NIP), which outlines the infrastructure spending strategy for the next 20 years.
In total, around GBP 375 billion of investments will fund 646 projects in communications, energy, infrastructure, transport, and water.
Alexander also stated as well as boosting the UK economy and creating large numbers of jobs and business opportunities, the developments will “make the UK a better place to live for everyone who calls it their home.”
The blueprint will include the following plans:
- a Hitachi and Horizon-backed agreement for a nuclear power station in Wales
- a GBP 1 billion guarantee to extend the Northern Line in the London Underground to Battersea
- improving the A50 around Staffordshire’s Uttoxeter
- GBP 50 million spent of a railway station redevelopment at Gatwick Airport
- a GBP 5 million plan to change public-sector, petrol using cars to electric vehicles
- GBP 20 billion auction of Government assets, including its 40% stake in Eurostar.
Whilst there were initially plans for toll A14 charges between Cambridge and Huntingdon, this proposal has been scrapped after local involvement.
Countering public claims
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, told the BBC the most important success parliament has achieved was to “create an environment in which people want to come in and invest in British infrastructure.”
Yet he confessed the UK had definitely “underinvested… over several decades.”
The NIP is part of the Treasury’s retaliation against criticism that progress on the ground isn’t matching parliament’s assertions.
This time last year, some GBP 309 billion of public and private funding for infrastructure was planned.
Yet whilst the Treasury maintains that 291 of the 646 total schemes currently listed are already under construction, only a smattering of the 40 top priority projects announced in 2011 have been completed.
What’s more, the Office for National Statistics noted that work on infrastructure decreased by 13% in 2012.
Unusually for these types of investments, the insurance industry has committed to spend around GBP 25 billion over the next half decade.
The involvement of firms including Aviva, Prudential and Standard Life reflects a recent rule change on insurance company involvement in these projects, and was called a “massive vote of confidence” in the industry by Alexander.
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