In the first interview of our “Perspectives on Infrastructure” series, Sue Kershaw of Costain looks at the future of infrastructure investment in the UK, particularly given the COVID-19 crisis.
Sue’s thoughts reflect what we are hearing from the vast majority of people we have spoken to in the market - infrastructure will be a key driver in rebuilding the UK’s economy as we come out of the crisis. The Government’s announcement that it plans to “build, build, build” is to be welcomed.
Private finance and investment will be needed if the UK Government is to meet its ambitions and it is important to keep in mind that the UK will be competing with a number of other economies here. The UK therefore needs to be a “world class” environment which can attract that foreign capital and investment. Amongst other things, this is going to need:
- clarity over the Government’s proposed infrastructure pipeline and how the private sector can help deliver;
- a mechanism, potentially a national infrastructure bank, which can help “crowd in” new investments where technology is in its infancy or where there are particular risks; and
- a long term approach to infrastructure which extends beyond the natural political cycles in the UK.
We will be discussing these issues, and others, over the coming weeks.
More generally, she is also now optimistic that the pandemic is going to spearhead a new era of infrastructure investment, encouraging both public and private investment in the UK. “It is seen as a real Eisenhower moment,” she says. “There is a view that we must invest and the best thing to invest in to get people back to work is infrastructure.”