With the Government expecting £310 billion to be spent by 2015 on national infrastructure projects, the National Audit Office (NAO) has outlined five key risks to getting value for money from projects.
At present, the Government is expecting the private sector to fund 64 per cent of the proposed waste, energy, water, rail, roads, flood defences and digital communications infrastructure projects proposed.
But the NAO has warned that one of the risks to achieving value for money from these projects is that forecasters may get wrong the need for infrastructure in the long term.
Another risk is that uncertainty over Government policy might lead project sponsors, lenders and contractors to defer or abandon projects in the UK for elsewhere.
It also warns that with the private sector funding the majority of the projects, costs may be transferred onto the public as consumers rather than as taxpayers through higher bills for example.
The NAO is also concerned by the potential for higher than planned support by taxpayers such as bearing project cost overruns.
There is also concern that the Government is seeking new ways to finance projects that could mean higher financial risk than currently anticipated.
NAO head Amyas More said: “Economic infrastructure keeps the country running. Demand for infrastructure is set to increase, fuelled by population growth, technological progress, climate change and congestion.
“But there is a lot at stake in taking forward the national infrastructure plan in an environment of straitened resources, with real risks to value for money and uncertainty about the sustainability of piling costs onto consumers.
“I have made a number of recommendations which look to the Treasury, departments and regulators to provide greater clarity on the costs which taxpayers and consumers will bear. Work is already in hand to drive down the costs of delivering new infrastructure and this should continue.”