New report calls for more public-private collaboration to deliver industrial strategy

The government needs to encourage greater collaboration between the public and private sectors if it is to deliver on its industrial strategy, reveals the latest Perspectives on Infrastructure: Delivering the industrial Strategy report from law firm Burges Salmon and Infrastructure Intelligence. 

The report, the third in a series of infrastructure-related reports by Burges Salmon, presents the challenges faced by the public sector in delivering UK infrastructure projects. It also highlights the necessity for the private and public sectors to work together more efficiently in to achieve the objectives of the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan.  

The report comprises three elements; an online survey of more than 100 decision makers working in the infrastructure industry, a YouGov survey of 1,600 members of the UK public and 12 in-depth interviews with key leaders involved in infrastructure in the public sector space. Interviewees include Stephen Hammond MP chairman of the APPG for infrastructure, Lord Andrew Adonis, Mark Thurston chief executive from HS2 and Alex Williams director of city planning at Transport for London. 

Responses from both surveys reveal that the government has a key role to play in the funding and delivery of UK infrastructure projects. The public survey found that 60% believe that national government should drive infrastructure in the UK. However, only 28% think it should be responsible for the progress of projects. The survey results and interviews also highlighted concerns about how private and public sectors work together saying that more collaboration is needed.  

On the issue of funding for infrastructure, the overall majority for both industry and public feel that the public sector needs to invest more in infrastructure than the private sector. 

Liz Dunn, a partner in the infrastructure team at Burges Salmon, believes that a better balance needs to be struck when deciding which projects are publicly or privately funded. “Currently, the more innovative and risky projects have to get private funding and the more bankable projects with a guaranteed return are funded publicly. Maybe the government should be taking a slightly more risky approach with its funding as this would help in attracting funding from bodies like pensions funds, which have to make a return when investing.”

Other key issues covered within the report include supply chain collaboration, devolution, investment in green and renewable projects, diversity and the skills gap within the sector. 

Will Gard, chair of the infrastructure group at Burges Salmon, said: “Building on the success of last year’s Perspectives on Infrastructure report, which focused on the private sector, and our most recent report Perspectives on Infrastructure: Housing, we were keen to continue the momentum with a third, which looks at how the government can best deliver its ambitious industrial strategy.”

Perspectives on Infrastructure:  Delivering the industrial Strategy report was launched at a reception on Thursday 14 June at the House of Commons. The report is now available to download here.

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