THE MEETING PLACE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE
One of the most effective means by which The Infrastructure Forum develops constructive ideas for the future of the sector is through its Working Groups.
These have been established in several policy areas, chaired by authoritative figures in the sector, allowing participants in the Forum to put forward constructive ideas and proposals on a range of detailed issues important to the health of infrastructure in the UK.
The Investment Working Group have for many years contributed to the design of infrastructure financing models, most significantly advocating for wider use the Regulated Asset Base model. The group recently responded to Treasury’s Solvency II reform consultation. It was pleasing to see that the group's suggestions about the handling of construction risk, a role for the UK Infrastructure Bank, strengthening the pipeline of investable projects and on reducing administrative burdens were all reflected in the announcement, as was improved treatment for green energy and digital assets.
TIF’s Energy Working Group has worked on a number of submissions examining options for the UK to meet the 2050 decarbonisation target, and how the transition to clean energy should be financed. The Forum recently held a discussion and market update from Angela Hepworth and Paul Davies to consider CCS and negative emissions in particular, the implications of the recent Government Greenhouse Gas Removals consultation and the opportunities for companies to invest in negative emissions; Officials from BEIS were also present. The Forum welcomed that the previous BEIS Secretary of State commissioned an independent review of the
Government’s approach to delivering its net zero target and therefore provided a short response to the review ahead of its deadline.
At its latest meeting, the Procurement Working Group explored commercial capability, including the need for further collaboration and up-skilling. A second key area was how to connect up departments, in particular the IPA and the Cabinet Office, as the current approach feels rather siloed. Also forming a part of the discussions was how digitalisation can improve procurement practice and promote the uptake of new and innovative technologies within procuring authorities. The Group is beginning to write a report which will look at the benefits and challenges of digitising procurement processes; the need for digital competency in procurement teams; learning the lessons of successful projects and more. HS2, Thames Tideway, London Legacy Development Corporation and Mott MacDonald have all been interviewed to inform the report so far.
The Taxation Working Group focus most especially on identifying tax ideas and policy suggestions for the medium and longer term to promote investment and resilience in UK infrastructure. The group has been extremely active throughout the last year, contributing representations ahead of fiscal events and responding to the Capital Allowance Consultation. The Working Group are continuing contributing their expertise, knowledge and creativity into Government, under a new Chair, Andrew Cox, Partner at Deloitte. Most recently and in good time ahead of the 2023 budget we have been discussing with HMT particular ideas to follow up the Super-Deduction, which comes to an end in April, and to promote investment in infrastructure and especially in green energy.
The Planning Working Group was set up to provide Government with ideas on improving the way in which nationally significant infrastructure projects are treated by the planning system. Most recently the group have pulled together a letter to Michael Gove making a number of points for the Government to consider in finalising and then implementing its NSIPs reforms Action Plan. These points were reiterated in the Forum's submission the the House of Lords Built Environment Committee inquiry into infrastructure policymaking and implementation in central government Following the Forum's submission on NSIP reform to HMT and DLUHC, the government has asked the National Infrastructure Commission to provide recommendations on the infrastructure planning system and, in particular the role of National Policy Statements.