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National Infrastructure Commission—National Infrastructure Assessment

On Tuesday 10 July, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published its first National Infrastructure Assessment. This assessment aims to take a long-term view of the needs of the UK across six sectors of the economy through a ‘long term, cross-sectoral approach’[1] and to support sustainable economic growth across all regions of the UK, improve competitiveness, and improve quality of life.[2] There is a wealth of detail, but the key headlines are the following.

  1. The NIC has focused on seven key areas:
  • full fibre broadband rollout by 2033;
  • generating half of the UK’s power from renewables by 2030;
  • recycling 75% of plastic packaging by 2030;
  • providing £43bn of transport funding for regional cities;
  • preparing for 100% electric vehicle sales by 2030;
  • ensuring resilience to extreme drought;
  • implementing a national standard of flood resilience for all communities by 2030.
  1. However, when the detail of the assessment is examined, it emerges that the NIC is suggesting that most of the public spending (over 90%) would actually be on transport—presumably expecting that the cost of the other aspirations would be largely undertaken by the private sector—and suggests only a small impact on consumer bills for energy and water (an increase of £20 per household per year) relative to a baseline without the NIC’s recommendations.
  1. The NIC calls for a mixture of public and private finance for this ambitious agenda—according to the NIC, ‘financing itself is not in short supply’,[3] but it suggests the creation of a UK infrastructure finance institution to encourage private investment and ensure that the costs and benefits of public and private finance are better understood.

The big outstanding question is ‘what happens next?’ The UK has a significant history of large reviews of infrastructure that did not change much—the Eddington Transport Study, for example. While there are many good ideas in the assessment and the ambition is to be welcomed, the onus is now on the government, regulators, and infrastructure industries to consider how they can make these large projects happen in the face of a plethora of challenges. The government will respond to the recommendations in the next 6–12 months.

If you would like to discuss the implications of the National Infrastructure Assessment for you or your organisation, please contact one of Oxera’s experts:


[1] National Infrastructure Commission (2018), ‘National Infrastructure Assessment’, 10 July, p. 5.
[2] Ibid. p. 8.
[3] Ibid. p. 14.