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Government backs independent NIC

London

The government has confirmed its commitment to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) by announcing that the body will be put on a permanent footing.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced that the commission is to become an executive agency which will help plan, prioritise and ensure efficient investment. It will be given its own budget, freedom and autonomy, which is set out in a charter detailing the government’s commitment to its independence.

The move follows weeks of uncertainty over the future of the NIC after a Bill that was supposed to put the body on a statutory footing omitted any mention.

The commission will come into force in January 2017 and Sir John Armitt has agreed to be interim deputy chair with immediate effect.

The chancellor is kick-starting discussions so stakeholders can have a say in how to ensure Britain’s infrastructure is fit for the future. A call for ideas has been launched to inform the commission’s next in-depth study, following successful reports which identified the benefits of Crossrail 2, transforming northern connectivity and smart power. The next study is set to be announced later in the year.

An open competition will now be held to find the commission’s first permanent chair and new additional commissioners.

Today’s announcement follows the commitment of some £100bn of investment in infrastructure during this Parliament.

“Today I have set out how we are putting the National Infrastructure Commission at the very heart of our plans to ensure Britain’s infrastructure is fit for the future,” said the chancellor.

“It will independently define our long-term infrastructure needs and help prioritise, plan and ensure value for money as this investment creates a modern Britain – fit to take on the world.”

Lord Adonis, interim chair of the NIC, added: “The National Infrastructure Commission was established to transform the way we plan and deliver major infrastructure projects in this country through expert analysis, long-term thinking and strategic advice.

“Today’s announcement is a big step towards providing the commission with the independence it needs to do the work. Now it is vital that we get the details right to ensure that the NIC has everything it needs to get on with the job.

“Sir John Armitt is a world leading figure in the delivery of major infrastructure projects. From his successful tenure as chief executive of Network Rail to his leading role in delivering the infrastructure behind the London 2012 Olympic Games, he will bring a wealth of knowledge to the role from a stellar career.”

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