The European Investment Bank (EIB) provided more than €20bn of anchor investment for UK infrastructure projects between 2011 and 2015, which acted to pull in substantial additional private investment.
If the UK leaves the EIB, there needs to be a plan to replace this funding stream, says the Brexit Infrastructure Group, which was set up to lobby government ('provide expert insight') on behalf of the construction industry.
“The EIB has been a vital part of the investment mix, acting as a critical anchor investor, funding billions of UK infrastructure projects and attracting other sources of funding,” said the group’s chairman, Sir John Armitt.
“If we are at risk of losing this source of investment, the government should start consulting with industry now on alternative options, including the potential for an infrastructure investment bank. This will send a clear signal to the market, and help consolidate the UK’s reputation as a global leader in infrastructure delivery,” he said.
The government has experience of setting up banks to attract infrastructure investment. The Green Investment Bank was set up by the coalition government in 2012 to promote the renewable energy sector. To date it has backed 98 green infrastructure projects, committing £3.4bn of public money to projects worth £12bn. However, the Conservative government has been trying to sell it since 2015 to get it off the Treasury’s balance sheet. This suggests that it might not have much appetite for a UK Infrastructure Investment Bank, as proposed by Armitt’s committee.
The Brexit Leadership Group also recommends that the government guarantee the status of foreign EU nationals currently working in the UK in advance of any reciprocal deal securing rights for UK workers across the EU.
The Brexit Leadership Group comprises:
- Sir John Armitt, deputy chair, National Infrastructure Commission
- Nick Baveystock, director general, Institution of Civil Engineers
- Amanda Clack, president, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
- Geoff French, chair, Enterprise M3
- Richard Laudy, partner and head of global infrastructure sector, Pinsent Masons
- Paul Nash, president, Chartered Institute of Building
- Mike Putnam, chief executive, Skanska UK
- Nick Roberts, chief executive, UK & Europe, Atkins
- Scott Steedman, director of standards, British Standards Institution
- James Stewart, chairman global infrastructure practice , KPMG
- Andrew Wolstenholme, co-chair, Construction Industry Council.