UK infrastructure pipeline still has a long way to go, says KPMG

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construction pipeline, KPMG,
© Panimoni

The UK government’s National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline looks to be gaining ground, but more needs to be done to drive investment, according to analysis by KPMG

The analysis by KPMG shows that energy remains the biggest sector by spend, with £189bn in committed investment, although 73% is allocated post-FY22. Transport is second with £123bn, followed by utilities at £47bn, with funds in these areas being allocated up to FY22. Other key sectors are housing and regeneration (£14.4bn), education (£14bn) and communications (£6.8bn).

The average infrastructure spend per capita is £907 across the UK. Based on a regional breakdown, this is highest in the South West (£26.6bn), North West (£21.4bn) and London (£19.8bn), and the lowest in the West Midlands (£5.3bn).

Jonathan White, KPMG’s UK Head of Infrastructure, Building and Construction, said: “The current National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline stands at £413bn. With the forecast public pipeline currently accounting for 1.5% of GDP, it’s encouraging that this is greater than the 1.2% recommended by the National Infrastructure Committee, so let’s keep it up.

“However, total public and private spend combined currently stands at 3.0% and is, therefore, still below the 3.7% of GDP recommended by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. More investment is needed to help bridge this gap.”

Commenting on the regional and sector breakdown of the investment pipeline, Jonathan added: “The Treasury has been criticised for regional disparity when it comes to infrastructure investment, with London often being centre stage.

“This year, the allocation of funds is spread out across the country. Notably, the South West and North West are set to receive the greatest spend, but most of this budget is allocated to nuclear power stations, such as the development of Hinkley Point C in the South West and the decommission of four nuclear power stations in the North West. For many, this will be disappointing when there is still a pressing need for investment in transport and digital infrastructure in these regions.

“Clearly, we’re seeing high levels of spend in energy, which is taking a sizeable share of the overall pot, although investment is largely earmarked for a longer time frame beyond 2022. We know that the market will be looking to see how much of this investment will go towards greener ways of generating power to help meet carbon reduction targets.”

The current pipeline has one fewer year in it than the previous period analysed in 2017, and therefore fewer allocated funds. This format leads to value ‘falling out’ as the five-year cycles of government departments and regulated utilities elapse. This makes the pipeline less valuable as a way of forecasting future spend for the construction industry, KPMG argues.

However, KPMG’s report also notes that the current construction pipeline is ‘moving in the right direction” as a result of HM Treasury’s efforts to continue to improve the methodology and accuracy of committed infrastructure spending.

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