Chancellor announces commission will become an executive agency with own budget and “freedom”

Andrew Adonis

The National Infrastructure Commission is to be put on a permanent footing, the chancellor has announced.

Philip Hammond said the commission will become an executive agency which will “help plan, prioritise and ensure efficient investment” in infrastructure.

The commission will be given its own budget, “freedom” and “autonomy”, set out in a charter detailing the government’s “clear commitment” to its independence, according to the Treasury.

The commission will come into force in January 2017 and Sir John Armitt has also agreed to be interim Deputy Chair of the commission with immediate effect.

A call for ideas has been launched to inform the commission’s next study, following reports which identified the benefits of Crossrail 2, and looked into Northern transport connectivity and smart power. The next study is set to be announced later this year.

An open competition will also be held to find the commission’s first permanent chair and new additional commissioners will also be sought to add to the current panel members.

The chancellor said: “Today I have set out how we are putting the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) at the very heart of our plans to ensure Britain’s infrastructure is fit for the future.

“It will independently define our long-term infrastructure needs and help prioritise, plan and ensure value for money as this investment creates a modern Britain - fit to take on the world.”

Lord Adonis (pictured), interim chair of the commission, said: “Today’s announcement is a big step towards providing the commission with the independence it needs to do the work.

“Now it is vital that we get the details right to ensure that the [National Infrastructure Commission] has everything it needs to get on with the job.‎”

Earlier this week, business leaders called on the government to reverse its decision to axe plans to establish the NIC in law.

In an open letter to Hammond, signatories, including CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn and British Chambers of Commerce acting director-general Dr Adam Marshall, urged the government to reconsider its “surprise decision” and “introduce the Bill promised in the Queen’s Speech in the next Parliamentary Session”.