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Iain Anderson: This is the week to unlock private sector infrastructure investment

Anderson IainIain Anderson is co-founder of Cicero Group and is an expert in global political risk and economic public policy issues. He has worked for a range of Conservative policymakers. He writes in a personal capacity. Follow Iain on Twitter.

For too long now there has been 'talk' of unleashing infrastructure funding. In the Chancellor's Autumn Statement this week - talk needs to give way to 'action'.

I have found myself in recent weeks locked in combat with those who use the term infrastructure investment as an interchangeable term for Plan B. It is not.

There is plenty of private sector capital ready to invest - this does not need to be public spending - but it needs to be turned into willing capital. Up until now the signs from Government have been just that - signals. On Wednesday this needs to change into policy action which will unlock investment.

For too long the debate has centered only on using PPP or PFI as the mechanism to deliver new projects. But talking to several institutional players who are keen to invest it is clear there needs to be a more flexible approach.

For example Standard Life is calling for a ‘multi-strand’ solution – more than one funding model. So project bonds for large scale projects which would find their place in the market and smaller scale projects - eg those in the housing sector - might form part of a pooled entity.

What Government can do is ensure these bonds or pooled assets can get as high a credit rating as possible. If this was added to the policy mix, we would be creating flexilibity for investors and taxpayers.

One size does not fit all - and that's true for any investment. So let's have a true market in infrastructure solutions. Getting infrastructure spending moving - from the private sector - would go a long way towards answering Ed Balls challenge - a challenge which is being increasingly listened to by the City.

So on Wednesday, Chancellor, let's unlock that investment - once and for all.


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