Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill & broadband


Over the weekend the BBC reported on the Government's plans to underwrite up to £50bn of private sector building projects which need finance, in an effort to boost growth.
"The Treasury said The Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill, which builds on a scheme launched in July, will give the green light to £40bn of construction projects by using the government's low interest rates to underwrite them. To qualify, the projects must be "nationally significant", ready to start construction within 12 months, financially credible and "good value" for taxpayers."
Broadband was acknowledged as being key to the UK's future growth in the Government's National Infrastructure Plan, updated in November of last year (more on this here). The other £10bn relates to plans to underwrite the construction of new homes. Yesterday in their coverage of the Cabinet reshuffle (in which Maria Miller became Culture Secretary as Jeremy Hunt moved to the post of Health Secretary), the Guardian noted the appointment of Paul Deighton, the chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), as a Treasury minister in charge of economic delivery:
"He will have responsibility for implementation of the 30-year National Infrastructure Plan published in 2010, including the guarantees for infrastructure being made possible by the legislation being introduced to Parliament this week. Specific examples include High Speed Two, Thames Tunnel, new road and rail projects (eg. A14, Northern Hub), rollout of high speed broadband, and new-build nuclear."
Presumably this legislation will be the Infrastructure Bill mentioned in the BBC's coverage. More on Paul Deighton's new role from Inside the Games:
"Deighton's responsibilities will include taking forward the National Infrastructure Plan, which was published last November and includes commitments to improve Britain's transport and broadband networks as well as steps to attract major new private sector investment. He will also be overseeing the new private finance initiative model and UK Guarantees scheme, where the Government is looking at under writing infrastructure schemes."
Hopefully more information about the Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill and what it means for the development of the UK's broadband infrastructure will shortly be available here.

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