The Uk is short of roadspace, electricity generation capacity, fast broadband, airport capacity, gas storage, deep water port capacity and homes in the right places. Most people agree it would be good to have more of all or most of these. Most people agree it would be good if the building and construction industry had more work, before its underlying capacity to work is reduced more permanently.
The government is involved in these matters. Businesses and individuals need planning permission to build. They need Building Regulations approval, and Health and Safety approval. In cases like energy and aviation the government is involved in pricing decisions and special taxes.It does not mean, however, that the government can or should own the assets and build new ones out of taxpayers money.
There is a lot of money around in pension funds, insurance funds and held by individual savers. The income returns on this money are now very poor if you try to stay in low risk assets. If you keep it on deposit or place it into “safe” government bonds the income is small. Many say they would like some new assets safer than shares that would give them a better yield.
The government should be able to work with the private sector to develop just such instruments to finance the infrastructure projects we need. The cashflows on a popular tollroad like the Dartford Crossing or from a baseload new electricity power station are good and reasonably reliable. Finance for such projects could be available where the investor agrees to make money available for say 25 years in return for an income of say 5% or so. The bonds could be traded on the market like government bonds, so you could get out long before the repayment date.
Many of the potential projects are held up. The government is trying to address the delays. More progress is needed to grant the permits, licences and the planning permissions and settle the tariff regimes so more projects can go ahead. It would be quite possible to have a much larger capital programme largely financed by private money. So far this has proved elusive, as there are so many obstacles in modern UK and EU government that can get in the way.
The immediate task of providing more cheaper energy is something we have often discussed here. Ministers do need to revisit damaging EU energy policies which are pricing us out of international markets owing to the business bills, and making it very difficult for many people to afford the domestic fuel bills.