Kevin Gibbs, Senior Counsel and Head of Strategic Planning, commented:
"We welcome the recommendations in the NIC report on genuinely devolved long term funding to improve connectivity and promote liveable cities.The report makes clear; strategies for housing and new infrastructure should be backed up by stable, substantial, devolved funding. Whilst in the past the Government has prioritised transport between cities, the next wave of major upgrades should increase the focus on transport within cities. The NIC also finds that infrastructure to support public transport in growing and congested cities offers some of the highest returns for transport investment and therefore the priorities for transport investment should be on growing and congested urban areas and their catchments.
"Governance is particularly important and the NIC recommends that the appropriate authority to make decisions on how to invest devolved urban infrastructure funding will often be a mayoral combined authority, combined authority or unitary authority. Further, once funding is devolved to local authorities, central government should not have powers over how it is spent. Whilst combined authorities are not essential as a pre requisite to secure long term funding for infrastructure, the Government is committed to the model and continues to devolve powers and financial freedoms to these authorities. Late last year together with Grant Thornton, we published our report on combined authorities (Combined Authorities - Signs of Success). In the report we highlighted the devolved powers for these new authorities and how they are performing. The NIC makes a particular recommendation for new and larger long term funding mechanisms for transport for selected growth priority cities and these cities will often tally with the combined authorities across the country.
"If accepted by Government the NIC recommendations could assist in providing the platform for funding over many years particularly aimed at growing congested cities with clear governance frameworks in place to lead on joint strategic planning for improved connectivity and sustainable growth."