London: The Management Consultancies Association (MCA) has urged the UK Government to give a senior member of the Cabinet oversight of all nationally significant infrastructure projects.
The MCA's call comes in the wake of reports that UK Chancellor George Osborne is planning a £50bn housing and road-building boom in a belated effort to ward off a double-dip recession.
The MCA's UK Infrastructure: Invest in Growth report says that a ministerial champion with the power to cut across Government departments and local councils is vital if major infrastructure projects are to proceed cheaply and on time.
In a move designed to secure Britain's future economic growth, the Minister would have the power to co-ordinate major projects — like the proposed Thames Estuary airport or the Severn Barrier — to ensure they are completed efficiently and with minimum disruption to the public, the MCA's report says.
An infrastructure supremo would also ensure transparent procurement processes and post-work evaluations to ensure exactly what has been paid for by the taxpayer or private finance initiatives has been delivered.
Alan Leaman, Chief Executive of the MCA said:
"We welcome the Government's plan to boost UK infrastructure spending. These must be supported by strong leadership at a political as well as administrative level. Bringing Britain up-to-date will get today's economy moving and is vital for our long-term success."
"While we all realise the need for a deficit reduction programme, this needs to come with a set of initiatives from the Government that will stimulate growth and create jobs. Infrastructure has great potential as a driver for growth in the UK economy. Modernising and updating our infrastructure will not only create employment, but make us more competitive and efficient in the long term.
"To do this we need to attract new capital. The MCA's UK Infrastructure: Invest in Growth report urges the Government to create a clear picture of priorities that will give confidence to investors and appoint a dedicated Minister to take charge of this spending.
"Management consultancies, through their expertise in complex public — private partnerships, have a big role to play in this effort in preparing and delivering the better infrastructure that the country needs."
The MCA's UK Infrastructure: Invest in Growth report also calls on the Government to take the necessary steps to encourage investment through setting clear priorities and increasing investors' confidence. Recommendations include:
- Central Government should publish a definitive list of the projects that are planned across central and local government. This should be a needs based assessment that takes into account the potential growth to be achieved by increased investment.
- Recommendations from the HM Treasury Infrastructure Cost Review Charter should be implemented as a matter of urgency.
- All projects should be evaluated on completion.
- A bond financing model for economic infrastructure should be explored.
- The Government should invest in the best quality advice before entering into PFI or PPP contracts.
- Efficiencies in infrastructure projects should start with improving the procurement process.