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.
TIF’s Energy Working Group has worked on a number of submissions in the last 18 months examining options for the UK to meet the 2050 decarbonisation target, and how the transition to clean energy should be financed. The group published reports including Investment in Energy, Carbon Capture & Storage: A Necessity not an Option, and Carbon Pricing & Infrastructure Investment.
On Monday 7 March 2022, Forum supporters had the opportunity to meet Alex Milward, Director Carbon Capture Utilisation & Storage at BEIS. The meeting allowed supporters to explore key current energy policy issues and be briefed on emerging government policies following recent dramatic changes in energy markets. The discussions also focused on the particular opportunities presented by Carbon Capture & Storage initiatives and progress in this area.
The Infrastructure Forum’s Procurement Working Group, chaired by David Ferroussat of Mace, submitted its response to Government’s procurement green paper in March 2021, with our main concern being that the green paper does not effectively cover major infrastructure projects and instead brackets these together with, and focuses on, transactional procurements of varying sizes.
The Cabinet Office has since responded to the consultation and we were very pleased to be joined by Lindsay Maguire, Head of Engagement, Procurement Reform and Lucy Sydney, Head of Strategic Relationships, Procurement Reform at the Cabinet Office on Tuesday 1 February 2022 who briefed the group on the key points and themes raised in the Government's response and highlighted the next steps for procurement reform.
The group is now considering undertaking a piece of work on Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and Net Zero Carbon buildings which are large worry beads for supporters at the moment. The UK is not embracing MMC as much as it should be, so the group is aiming to complete a review of the take-up and technology and skills needed to support this. The group has invited Gareth Rhys Williams, the Government Chief Commercial Officer, to discuss these topics with the group and we hope to have a date confirmed shortly.
Under the chairmanship of Graham Wright, Tax Partner at EY, the Taxation Working Group has been focused on identifying tax ideas and policy suggestions for the medium and longer-term to promote investment and resilience in UK infrastructure.
Most recently the group met on Friday 28 January 2022, with the aim of coming up with some suggestions to share with HM Treasury on those areas where we see opportunity to enhance current measures, to consider new provisions that would benefit the infrastructure sector, or to engage where necessary on recently announced legislative measures. The discussion helped the Working Group to produce its Budget representation, which has since been submitted to HM Treasury.
The group will be regrouping very shortly to work on developing our idea for developing ‘special tax regimes’ for the industries that the Government is looking to expand and boost investment in over the next ten years. The group’s latest report, 'Super-Charging the Super-Deduction' includes a contribution from each of the Big 4. The report suggests that HM Treasury should consider a range of options, including an extension of the super-deduction, to relieve remaining concerns and increase the overall benefit of the initiative.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government recently consulted on the National Infrastructure Planning Reform Programme. TIF have long been closely engaged in the debates on planning reform with particular regard to incentives to encourage development including the operation of Section 106 scheme and the Community infrastructure Levy.
We therefore decided to set up a Planning Working Group, chaired by James Good of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, tasked with providing a response to MHCLG’s consultation. The group’s concluding session was held on Monday 13 December 2021 and its response to the consultation and detailed recommendations have since been submitted. The Forum will develop its work on infrastructure planning in the light of the government’s response.
REGULATED ASSET BASE
The Infrastructure Forum's RAB Working Group has long been analysing the potential benefits behind an innovative expansion of RAB based financing models. Mike Gerrard, Chair of INPP and formerly of Thames Tideway, chairs the RAB Working Group comprised of infrastructure finance experts.
As the whole of government considered the way forward for funding and financing infrastructure projects, particularly in the context of meeting Net-Zero objectives, the group were able to influence government thinking on structuring the RAB model to deliver infrastructure projects cost effectively.
The RAB Working Group set out its ideas for an innovative expansion of the RAB model in latest report, Regulated Infrastructure Investment.
It was very pleasing that Government announced in October 2021 a new finance model for nuclear projects, designed to encourage a wider range of private investment using the regulated asset base model.
Following the great success of the work he led on Regulated Infrastructure Investment, Mike Gerrard is leading another strand of work on infrastructure governance. The governance of listed businesses has benefited from a succession of reviews and published codes of best practice over the last 30 years. By contrast and despite the scale of many infrastructure projects and businesses being at least equivalent to that of FTSE250 companies, governance of the development, construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure assets has not benefited from reviews, nor published codes of best practice.
The working group published its latest paper ‘Infrastructure Governance – The Gerrard Report’ in September 2020. The report provides a set of recommendations for boards across the infrastructure sector, regardless of whether their organisations are public or private sector, or whether they manage assets in the operation or construction phases, or in early-stage development.