Infrastructure Progress Review 2022

How well is government delivering on its commitments to transform the UK's infrastructure?

Kingston upon Hull from the air

In its autumn Spending Review, government committed to spend £100 billion on the UK's infrastructure over the next three years.

Animated graph showing infrastructure expenditure

This increased funding is welcome. But spending public money effectively requires sound strategy and robust plans for delivery.

The National Infrastructure Strategy, informed by the Commission's independent recommendations and published by government in 2020, offers a solid foundation.

So how is the government doing on implementing the Strategy?

Some good achievements

There are areas of real progress, where policy is making a positive difference

Liverpool city centre from the air

The UK Infrastructure Bank has been established and is already making deals.

The bank has two strategic objectives:

  1. to help tackle climate change
  2. support regional and local economic growth.

It has £12 billion of capital to deploy, and can issue up to £10 billion of government guarantees.

Gigabit broadband coverage continues to accelerate rapidly and now reaches over 65 per cent of premises.

Animated graph showing gigabit capable coverage

Renewable electricity capacity has increased and government has committed to hold contract auctions every year to grow it further.

Graph showing growth in renewables
Image showing a person using a smart phone

But overall, it has been a year of slow progress

Government is not currently on track to deliver infrastructure changes required to hit net zero by 2050, level up the UK or improve our climate resilience.

Some of the strategies it has published over the last year lack detailed
policy plans, leave key gaps, or simply don't go far enough.

There are a number of areas of infrastructure policy where the Commission is concerned about the current pace of progress.

Decarbonising heating

A heat pump attached to a house

Cutting carbon from power generation has been doing the heavy lifting so far. We now need to reduce emissions from heating homes and other buildings - and we need to do it fast to hit interim targets for 2035.

Animated chart showing emissions reductions since 1990

Annual heat pump installations are around 36,000, far short of the government’s target for 600,000 by 2028, and energy efficiency installations are also falling short of the level needed.

Targets in the Heat and Buildings Strategy need to be supported with a delivery plan and clear funding.

Flood resilience

Image of a car stuck in floodwater

More than five million homes in England are at risk of flooding, and climate change means the risk is growing.

Government investment in flood defences has doubled and policies have been revised to emphasise catchment based planning and the role of green infrastructure.

But government has yet to define long term targets for flood resilience. Until it does so, policies and investment are unlikely to fully address the flood risk.

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Image of an EVS charging parking space

The Transport Decarbonisation Plan sets out long term targets for decarbonising the transport sector, including a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 and a commitment for all new HGVs to be zero emission by 2040.

But the current roll out of electric vehicle charge points is too slow.

Animation showing growth in number of EV chargepoints

Between 280,000 to 480,000 charge points will be needed by 2030 to enable the shift to electric vehicles.

By the end of 2021, only around 25,000 charge points had been installed.

Urban transport

Image of a tram reflected in a window

Government is yet to give local councils the tools to help deliver levelling up when it comes to improving transport links.

Whilst steps to widen devolution to more areas are welcome, government must do more to unlock tangible improvements to local infrastructure.

There are currently 15 separate pots of funding for transport for which local authorities can bid

There are currently 15 separate pots of funding for transport for which local authorities can bid

We need to see a shift away from competitive bidding between councils for multiple funding pots, towards long term devolved funding settlements. And this should happen far quicker than the eight year timeframe government has suggested.

The full Infrastructure Progress Review on our website has a sector-by-sector analysis of government's progress across all the sectors in the Commission's remit.

Priorities

There are a number of actions government should take
in 2022 to get infrastructure plans back on track

A view across Sheffield city centre

Transforming transport

Government should:

  • Turbo charge the deployment of charge points to help enable the end of new diesel and petrol car and vans sales by 2030
  • Move away from competitive bidding for short term funding pots and rapidly devolve five year funding settlements to more places
  • Support a number of priority cities to develop plans for major urban transport schemes

Energy efficiency

Improve energy efficiency schemes to put the country on track to ensure as many homes as possible are EPC C rated or above by 2035

Greenhouse gas removal

Publish a detailed plan to deliver at least the 5 MtCO2 per year of engineered removals by 2030, to address the hardest sectors to abate

Recycling rates

Deliver increased recycling rates by finalising policy on key areas such as extended producer responsibility, deposit return schemes, recycling consistency and bans on certain types of plastics

Flood resilience

Set out a long term measurable objective for what flood resilience policy in England is trying to achieve

Water conservation

Strengthen and progress plans for reducing per capita water consumption to deliver the targeted 110 litres per person per day by 2050

Digital futures

Set out an assessment of the country’s future wireless connectivity needs and how mobile networks will need to evolve to meet future demand

Review regulators' duties

Building on the publication of the Economic Regulation Paper to complete a review of regulators' statutory duties

Testing resilience

Set out improvements to resilience standards and stress testing in the forthcoming National Resilience Strategy

Transforming transport

Government should:

  • Turbo charge the deployment of charge points to help enable the end of new diesel and petrol car and vans sales by 2030
  • Move away from competitive bidding for short term funding pots and rapidly devolve five year funding settlements to more places
  • Support a number of priority cities to develop plans for major urban transport schemes

Energy efficiency

Improve energy efficiency schemes to put the country on track to ensure as many homes as possible are EPC C rated or above by 2035

Greenhouse gas removal

Publish a detailed plan to deliver at least the 5 MtCO2 per year of engineered removals by 2030, to address the hardest sectors to abate

Recycling rates

Deliver increased recycling rates by finalising policy on key areas such as extended producer responsibility, deposit return schemes, recycling consistency and bans on certain types of plastics

Flood resilience

Set out a long term measurable objective for what flood resilience policy in England is trying to achieve

Water conservation

Strengthen and progress plans for reducing per capita water consumption to deliver the targeted 110 litres per person per day by 2050

Digital futures

Set out an assessment of the country’s future wireless connectivity needs and how mobile networks will need to evolve to meet future demand

Review regulators' duties

Building on the publication of the Economic Regulation Paper to complete a review of regulators' statutory duties

Testing resilience

Set out improvements to resilience standards and stress testing in the forthcoming National Resilience Strategy

Read the full review online

Read it on our website...

...or download a .pdf