Infrastructure requirements need to be considered in Brexit negotiations, says Institution of Civil Engineers
The Institution of Civil Engineers has called on the government to create a UK investment bank to fund and protect domestic infrastructure projects in the event the country crashes out of the EU next year without a deal.
If Brexit, which is set to become official at the end of March 2019, results in the UK losing access to funds from the European Investment Bank (EIB) it will need a mechanism to support vital infrastructure schemes across the country, ICE said.
The UK borrowed £27bn from the EIB between 2012 and 2016, but financing “fell off a cliff” between 2016 and 2017, slumping by 72%, the institution added.
In a paper published today ICE said: “Should the UK lose access to the EIB all together, or if finance from the EIB is not sufficient to meet the infrastructure pipeline of works, ICE would encourage the UK to look at options to implement a UK investment bank.
“To keep any bank off balance sheet the government should consider using the UK Guarantees Scheme to underpin a privately owned and financed bank, supported in a similar way to the German investment bank KfW and with a similar mission to the EIB.”
ICE said if Brexit was to be a success government and industry “will need to take into account the infrastructure requirements of any final deal – or even a no deal”.
The UK’s interconnectivity with Europe cannot be an afterthought, ICE added. “The roads, rails, tunnels, ports and airports which link the UK with the countries of the EU and the rest of the world underpin the financial strength of the nation.”
ICE also called on ministers to guarantee freedom of movement for overseas construction workers: “With an estimated skills gap of 400,000 workers the UK cannot afford to shut out external talent.”