Infrastructure Progress Review 2023


Our latest annual assessment of the government's progress on implementing its commitments on infrastructure.


The task of this annual review is to assess progress towards implementation of the Commission’s past recommendations adopted by government.

In doing so it would be remiss not to take a wider view on progress towards major infrastructure objectives government has set itself, and behind which there is broad political consensus – such as creating a net zero economy by 2050 and promoting economic growth across all regions of the UK.

These goals require huge public and private investment over a sustained period.

During 2022 there were some steps forward: greater devolution to West Midlands and Greater Manchester to implement their own ambitious infrastructure strategies, and progress to keep the UK on track to achieve nationwide coverage of gigabit broadband by 2030.

But if the Commission saw 2021 as a year of slow progress in many areas, in 2022 movement has stuttered further just as the need for acceleration has heightened. There have been negligible advances in improving the energy efficiency of UK homes, the installation of low carbon heating solutions or securing a sustainable balance of water supply and demand.

The risk of a mixed scorecard is that readers take their pick based on their own experiences or purposes. Residents in the north of England, for instance, could hardly be blamed for focusing on the appalling state of current rail services within and between the places pivotal to supporting growth. Others will cheer the further expansion of cheap renewable energy generation at a time of severe concerns about energy security and the high costs of fossil fuels.

But taking a strategic view on the recent pace of planning and delivery suggests a significant gap between long term ambition and current performance. To get back on track, we need a change of gear in infrastructure policy.

This means fewer low stakes incremental changes and instead placing some bigger strategic bets, backed by public funding where necessary – after all, the risk of delay in addressing climate change is now greater than the risk of over correction. We must have the staying power to stick to long-term plans, to spare cost increases that come with a stop-start approach and to give investors greater confidence in the UK. We must also accelerate and expand the devolution of power and funding to local leaders, who are best placed to identify their infrastructure needs and economic opportunities.

Getting our infrastructure right for the second half of this century is a journey that, by definition, will go on being plotted over the coming decades. But a further year of prevarication risks losing momentum on critical areas like achieving the statutory net zero target. Rarely has the need for speed been more evident.

Sir John Armitt, Chair

Final Report

Infrastructure Progress Review 2023

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Front cover of the IPR 2023 report

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1 Feb 2024 By
Go big where it counts to hit economic and climate goals, says Commission
Front cover image from IPR

Go big where it counts to hit economic and climate goals, says Commission

Government must develop stronger staying power and focus on fewer, bigger, better targeted initiatives to deliver the infrastructure needed to meet its long term goals for economic growth and a lower carbon economy, the UK’s independent advisers on infrastructure have said. The last year has seen progress towards major infrastructure objectives “stutter further just as...

27 Mar 2023 By

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