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LSE recommendations behind UK government's new Infrastructure Commission

The UK government’s new Infrastructure Commission, unveiled at the Conservative Party Conference today (Monday 5 October), was one of the key recommendations of the LSE Growth Commission, which reported in the autumn of 2013.

The new commission will be chaired by Lord Adonis and will explore how the UK can improve its construction of major road, rail, air, housing and energy projects.

Growth Commission report

The LSE Growth Commission, led by the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE with the Institute for Government, identified key elements of a long-term growth strategy for the UK. One of its main recommendations was the need for new institutional structures, including an Infrastructure Planning Commission, to create the strategic vision required to stimulate investment in national infrastructure, particularly in transport and energy.

Professor Tim Besley, Sir William Arthur Lewis Professor of Development Economics and one of the two co-chairs of the Growth Commission, said: “One of the areas we identified as being crucial to improve on was the UK’s infrastructure architecture, so the government’s announcement of a new Infrastructure Commission is a positive one.” 

Professor John Van Reenen, Director of the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE and co-chair of the Growth Commission, said: “Radically improving the UK’s infrastructure of transport, energy, telecoms and housing is critical to facilitate long-term growth. Substantial investment is needed in all these areas so it is encouraging that we now have a body dedicated to addressing the problems that have constrained our prosperity in the past.” 

The LSE Growth Commission’s report, published in 2013, stated “After years of inadequate investment in skills, infrastructure and innovation, there are longstanding structural weaknesses in the economy, all rooted in a failure to achieve stable planning, strategic vision and a political consensus on the right policy framework to support growth. This must change if we are to meet our current challenges and those that may arise in the future.

“We propose developing a new institutional architecture to address the poor quality of our national infrastructure. This would dramatically reduce the policy instability that arises from frequent changes in political personnel and priorities, particularly in transport and energy.”

The Infrastructure Planning Commission recommended by the report would “support the implementation of those priorities with more powers to share the gains from infrastructure investment by more generously compensating those who stand to lose from new developments.”

The LSE Growth Commissioners were Philippe Aghion, Tim Besley, John Browne, Francesco Caselli, Richard Lambert, Rachel Lomax, Chris Pissarides, Nick Stern and John Van Reenen.

For more on the LSE Growth Commission, see http://www.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/units/growthCommission/home.aspx

Monday 5 October 2015