Cameron’s policy czar to team up with the Treasury to ensure delivery of projects

A new cabinet committee chaired by Oliver Letwin and infrastructure minister Lord Sassoon has been set up to drive forward the government’s planned investment in infrastructure.

Treasury commercial secretary Lord Sassoon said the group, which includes relevant ministers from every department with major infrastructure programmes, has been set up to ensure a smooth pipeline of projects. It met for the first time last week.

He said: “It is so we can form a government-wide view of a pipeline we can look at and share with ministers, to identify where the blockages might be, and whether timescales are being met.”

It will also include outgoing Infrastructure UK chief executive James Stewart, as well as chair Paul Skinner. However the group won’t be publishing research or creating policy. Sassoon added: “It will include all the ministers with most direct responsibility for infrastructure department by department. I see it as an important working tool within government.”

The government has committed to a £200bn programme of infrastructure investment over the next five years, of which it expects 80% to be funded by the private sector. Infrastructure UK has been tasked with identifying how to enable the investment, alongside parallel work to reduce the construction and procurement costs of major infrastructure projects.

Sassoon said his “neck was on the line” to ensure delivery of the infrastructure programme.

Andrew McNaughton, chief operating officer at Balfour Beatty, welcomed the developments. He said: “One of the blockages for us in reducing cost has been the start-stop nature of investment. Of vital importance is the concept of being able to forward plan, firstly for our sakes, but secondly to enable us to invest in training people.”

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