Watchdog blasts “rushed” UK Infrastructure Bank

Grant Prior 1 year ago
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Watchdog MPs on the Public Accounts Committee have raises questions about the independence, strength and value of the first deals made by the new UK Investment Bank (UKIB).

The UKIB was launched in 2021 to “partner with the private sector and local government to increase infrastructure investment.”

The report released today said it was “created in a rush at Ministers’ insistence, which meant it operated with weak financial governance and very close to the Treasury for its first year.

“The significant risk of begin operating without an effective audit and risk committee and outside the UK’s Corporate Governance code had to be counterbalanced by choosing low risk early deals, approved through Treasury processes.”

The bank has so far deployed £1bn of its initial £22bn capital in 10 deals.

The financing has gone into broadband and solar farms scheme which the report said are “both relatively common projects”.

Dame Meg Hillier MP Chair of the Public Accounts Committee said: “The UKIB was set up in haste to shore up Government’s stalled promises on Net Zero and levelling up, as we lost £5bn a year of European infrastructure funding to Brexit.

“It’s really not clear what the UKIB is doing that the market wasn’t already, or would be doing with better functioning tax incentives – as just one example.

“The Treasury didn’t need to reinvent this particular wheel, with all the attendant risk to benefit, value and taxpayers’ money.

“The predecessor Green Investment Bank was also sold to the public as an ‘enduring institution’ and then sold off to the Australian private sector five years later.

“It’s now turning bumper profits. We need more assurance from Government that lessons learned are being implemented and the catalogue of policy and spending errors we’ve seen will not be repeated.”

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