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NAO issues infrastructure investment warning

Private investors will shun infrastructure projects unless the government is clearer about its priorities and about levels of public funding, said public spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) this week.

The government’s National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) identifies the need for £310bn to be spent on infrastructure across the UK with the aim of unlocking £257bn by March 2020.

“The [NIP] and its associated work strands represent a significant escalation in the government’s efforts to secure investment in economic infrastructure,” says the NAO report.

“It is too early to judge their overall effectiveness in securing investment that is value for money for taxpayers and consumers.”

The report highlights poor demand forecasting and a lack of clarity about government policy as areas that had to be addressed.

It also says that ministers have failed to assess the cumulative impact on consumers of infrastructure user charges.

Other areas of uncertainty included taxpayer exposure to cost overruns. The report also warned that fewer projects would be built if efforts to control costs are not stepped up.

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