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Infrastructure at heart of Spending Review as Chancellor launches National Infrastructure Commission

George Osborne commits to £100 billion in infrastructure spending by 2020.

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Chancellor George Osborne will today insist better infrastructure is vital to improve the lives of British people as he commits to £100 billion of spending in this Parliament for new roads, rail, flood defences and other vital projects.

Launching the new National Infrastructure Commission, led by former Cabinet minister Lord Adonis, the Chancellor will set out plans to ‘get Britain building’, saying that infrastructure will be at the heart of next month’s Spending Review.

In his statement, he will pledge £100 billion in infrastructure spending by 2020 – including full funding for the £15 billion Roads Investment Strategy.

A suite of asset sales which the Treasury expects to raise billions of pounds is being identified to be ploughed back into infrastructure projects, with more details to be announced at the Spending Review.

Speaking at the National Railway Museum in York alongside Lord Adonis, the Chancellor will also confirm the hugely experienced group who will make up the independent National Infrastructure Commission – the new independent body that has been set up to determine Britain’s infrastructure priorities and hold governments to account for their delivery.

The commissioners are:

  • Lord Heseltine – the former deputy prime minister who has long championed the regeneration of Britain’s inner cities through infrastructure investment
  • Sir John Armitt – the former chair of the Olympic Delivery Authority, and next year’s President of the Institute of Civil Engineers
  • Professor Tim Besley – a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and the LSE’s Growth Commission, which recommended an independent infrastructure body
  • Demis Hassabis – artificial intelligence researcher, neuroscientist and head of DeepMind Technologies
  • Sadie Morgan – a founding director of dRMM Architects and Design Panel Chair of HS2
  • Bridget Rosewell – a senior adviser at Volterra and former Chief Economist and Chief Economic Adviser to the Greater London Authority
  • Sir Paul Ruddock – chairman of the Victoria & Albert Museum and the University of Oxford Endowment

The commission will produce a report at the start of each five-year Parliament, offering recommendations for priority infrastructure projects.

Its initial focus will be in three key areas. These are:

  • northern connectivity, particularly identifying priorities for future investment in the North’s strategic transport infrastructure to improve connectivity between cities, especially east-west across the Pennines
  • London’s transport system, particularly reviewing strategic options and identifying priorities for future investment in large scale transport improvements – on road, rail and underground – including Crossrail 2
  • energy, particularly exploring how the UK can better balance supply and demand, aiming for an energy market where prices are reflective of costs to the overall system

The Chancellor said:

My Spending Review will be about delivering security.

British people have to spend longer than they should getting to work, pay more than they should in energy bills and can’t buy the houses they want because of the failure of successive governments to think long-term.

Infrastructure isn’t some obscure concept – it’s about people’s lives, economic security and the sort of country we want to live in. That’s why I am determined to shake Britain out of its inertia on infrastructure and end the situation where we trail our rivals when it comes to building everything from the housing to the power stations that our children will need.

This is about jobs, growth, living standards and ensuring Britain is fit for the future. We must be the builders. At the Spending Review, I will commit to investing £100bn in infrastructure over the next five years and we are creating an independent commission to give us a long-term, unbiased analysis of the country’s major infrastructure needs.

We need to think long-term and deliver a cross-party consensus on what we need to build. I am delighted Andrew Adonis and this world-class group of experts have agreed to come together on the National Infrastructure Commission to help us do that.

Lord Adonis said:

For Britain to get on with the job of delivering high-quality infrastructure that benefits everyone, you need more than just a commitment to invest – you need long term forward plans and the maximum possible consensus.

That is what the National Infrastructure Commission is here to promote.

Published 30 October 2015