"Getting our infrastucture right for the second half of this century is a journey that, by definition, will go on being plotted over the coming decades."
"But a further year of prevarication risks losing momentum on critical areas like achieving the statutory net zero target."
"Rarely has the need for speed been more evident."
Sir John Armitt, Chair
Infrastructure is essential to
a prosperous future
The United Kingdom faces a number of significant challenges:
📉 Slow economic growth and investment
🏙 Regional economic inequalities
💚 Delivering net zero carbon emissions by 2050
🌊 Building up resilience to the impacts of climate change
Infrastructure can play an important role in helping address these problems.
But upgrades and major projects can often take many years - or decades - to be decided upon, and often even longer to get built.
They also typically require significant investment by both the public and private sectors, and the right regulatory environment.
That's why it's important for the UK to have systems in place for long term planning, and consensus between politicians, industry and investors on the biggest priorities for the future.
A mixed picture in infrastructure policymaking
Since publishing its National Infrastructure Strategy in 2020, we have seen welcome ambition from the government in its long term goals - and it has increased its planned spending on infrastructure to help achieve these.
But the scale of the challenge in upgrading the UK's infrastructure is such that these targets and spending commitments need to be turned into delivery on the ground, with increasing urgency.
Scroll further to see our assessment of the state of play across a number of key areas of infrastructure...
Some infrastructure sectors are seeing good progress
A number of government's recent interventions are working successfully and delivering positive change.
The delivery of a high-speed broadband network across the country is progressing rapidly - over 70 per cent of households can now access so-called 'gigabit-capable' broadband services.
Assuming this investment continues, and government continues to subsidise services in under-served and rural areas, we think it's more than likely government will achieve its target of national coverage by 2030.
By offering a consistent business model for bringing more renewable energy sources on stream, government has continued to build an electricity system that is becoming less reliant on natural gas.
Not only are we using less fossil fuels - the resulting electricity is cheaper to produce.
Government has doubled planned investment to enhance the country's resilience to river and sea flooding, in line with our recommendations.
And wider policies have been changed to improve planning and make more use of natural solutions to reduce the risks of future flooding.
But there needs to be a more
consistent approach to delivery
In many areas, the current pace of progress is too slow:
Little progress has been made over the last year to improve the energy efficiency of the UK's homes and buildings and to decarbonise how we heat them.
The government has a target of installing 600,000 heat pumps every year up to 2028.
Last year, only 55,000 were installed.
At this rate, the target will be missed, putting at risk the UK's capacity to meet its net zero objectives.
Government expects 300,000 public electric vehicle charge to be available by 2030. But only 37,000 public chargepoints are currently installed.
With just eight years to go, a rapid increase in chargepoint installations is needed to enable drivers to make the switch to an electric vehicle with confidence.
The impact of a growing population and climate change means we all need to use less water, to ensure there is enough to go around sustainably.
It is not clear that current government policies to encourage greater water efficiency are enough to achieve the 110 litres per person per day consumption target by 2050.
Getting long term infrastructure
planning back on track
We think government should focus on applying four key principles to all aspects of its
infrastructure programme, to get infrastructure planning back on track.
Policy staying power to deliver long term goals
and reduce uncertainty, which adds cost and deters investment
Fewer, but bigger and better interventions
from government, with tighter strategic focus on the areas where it can make the most difference
Greater devolution of funding and decision making
building on the multi-year funding settlements for combined authorities with long term devolved budgets for all local transport authorities
Unblocking delivery barriers
specifically the planning regime for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs)
Long journeys all start
with a first step
Alongside these four principles, we have identified ten priorities for government action over the next twelve months.
These include demonstrating staying power by progressing the full Integrated Rail Plan for HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail; and boosting energy efficiency improvements in homes, including tightening minimum standards in the private rental sector.
Find out more about the government's progress on improving the country's infrastructure
You can read our full list of proposed short term priorities by accessing our review.
To see our full assessment, you can: