A bit self-centred I grant you, but it’s nice to have your analysis confirmed. On Monday, the Public Accounts Committee issued a downbeat report about the UK government’s National Infrastructure Plan. Introducing the report, committee chair Margaret Hodge said in a statement:
“Given the difficulty in raising private finance, the government may have to use taxpayers’ money to attract investors through direct grants, guaranteed incomes or agreeing to bear certain risks.
“Although the level of government support required is not yet clear, it will be either consumers or taxpayers who will have to pay up, and so openness about the impact of government decisions is essential.”
Wise words. This month’s issue of Total Politics magazine, published a few weeks ago, has an article by me on infrastructure and politicians. Considering the barriers to getting new infrastructure financed to stimulate economic growth, I wrote:
“Today, no such deal [as the Channel Tunnel] could be financed; the private sector would demand government-backed guarantees. The big issue is one of funding – of who pays in the end. If we want new infrastructure, you and I will have to pay more, through higher taxes or higher consumer charges. The question is, can politicians deliver this message without getting shot?”
But the article doesn’t just echo Margaret Hodge: it also quotes an infrastructure expert who thinks she’s missing the point about government guarantees when she gives the private sector a hard time about it.
You can read the full article on the Total Politics website here.