Advisor urges Sunak to unlock private infrastructure capital to reboot economy


Infrastructure stimulus measures will be vital to success in efforts to rebuild confidence in the economy according to a lead government advisor.

In a letter to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) Sir John Armitt has emphasised the need to instil confidence across the economy, highlighting the potential role of a UK replacement for the European Investment Bank, focused on infrastructure, to “play a major financing role and crowd-in private capital.”

Armitt ([pictured) wrote: “While significant public investment will be necessary, private capital is critical to infrastructure in many sectors. Clear guidance on the direction of policy and regulation, supported appropriately with public money for research and development and pilot projects, will stimulate private infrastructure investment.”

He went on to say private investment could be “unlocked” by the government “setting out a long-term infrastructure strategy and continuing with front-end planning for longer-term schemes – even if any construction work may be some years away.”

Armitt said the NIC would support short term stimulus measures “that accelerate planned work and focus on ways of locking in a lower carbon economy,” with examples including gigabit broadband roll-out and decarbonising energy production. But he added: “it is crucial not to lose sight of the long-term. The economy runs on confidence, and government has a critical role to play in instilling this among investors, businesses and consumers.”