The Infrastructure Forum’s Social Infrastructure working group has made key recommendations to the government ahead of today’s autumn statement.
The working group members welcome the review of how private finance should be used to help fund public infrastructure and highlighted that “private finance of public infrastructure has brought and can continue to bring many benefits for the UK”.
The group recommends “the development of a single procurement agency for England, as already exists in Scotland, to drive forward infrastructure investment”.
It also supports “the identification of a cadre of experienced public sector project directors, with commercial acumen and a track record of success to manage” the complex procurements of the agency.
The group also recommends a reduction in “the range of services and risks it [the public sector] aims to transfer through these projects…paying close attention to whether that transfer is delivering value for money”.
Most crucially the working group members encourage the government to “identify and centrally manage a pipeline of critical infrastructure projects”.
The Infrastructure Forum Advisory Council chairman Richard Threlfall said: “The UK’s economic growth can only be delivered if people have a place to live, at affordable cost, and we have invested in an educated and healthy society.
“On these measures we continue to lag behind. We have 1.7 million people on social housing waiting lists and in maths, science and reading we are slipping down the OECD rankings.
“Without improvements in social infrastructure the UK risks falling behind as a place to do business and live.
“We need a holistic approach to the economic development of this country covering housing, schools, hospitals, leisure facilities as well as all the supporting energy, utility, transport and digital infrastructure. Investing in social infrastructure is a national imperative.”