By Max Clarke

The UK suffers from some of the most congested infrastructure in the developed world and a failure to invest in these will have serious impacts upon the country’s long-term economic future. Improvements to transport, energy and ICT infrastructure could increase GDP by an additional 0.7%.

Recommendations for improving the UK’s congested infrastructure were outlined today in a new report; "Tackling the Infrastructure Puzzle".

The Business Infrastructure Commission’s plea comes just a week after the Confederation of British Industry bemoaned the state of the nation’s road network, calling it a barrier to the nation’s development.

The report urges the Government to rise to the challenge and focus on the five pieces of the infrastructure puzzle, to create a strong infrastructure framework which will benefit the UK economy for years to come. They include a detailed long-term infrastructure strategy, procurement reform and improvements to the planning system for major projects. These must go hand in hand with attracting private finance, and ensuring we have the right skills to deliver national and regional infrastructure projects.

“The UK has one of the most heavily used infrastructure networks in the developed world,” said Professor David Begg, Chairman of the Business Infrastructure Commission. “This is why it is critical to encourage further investment so that UK infrastructure is fit for the future. By infrastructure, we mean transport, energy supply, and digital communications networks — the backbone of business and our economic health.

“Increased levels of investment from both Government and critically from the private sector must also be matched by a long-term infrastructure strategy. This has to include a focus on how we develop a skilled workforce to deliver these projects, an overhaul of how we procure and build new publicly funded infrastructure, and a planning system that is fit for purpose. For example, there are savings of £2-3bn annually to be found through more efficient procurement.

“Our ability to move goods and services around the country, and doing business online, is crucial to our economic vitality, particularly in stimulating regional economies. Without investment and a long-term infrastructure strategy, our economy may be hindered by networks that cannot support its growth.”