Many of us have noticed the impact of rising energy bills. New private spending on infrastructure will push bills up further. We’re concerned no one is making sure it’s affordable.
It’s vital that we invest in new infrastructure – whether that’s upgrading train tracks to help us get from A to B, or building new power stations to ensure we can keep the lights on.
However, this kind of investment is expensive – really expensive. We analysed the Government’s National Infrastructure plan, and found that there is £327bn of infrastructure spending planned between now and 2021. And that’s just on the energy, water, telecoms and transport sectors. Some of that is paid for by the Government through tax. However, the majority – £214bn – will be privately funded. This means companies will eventually claw back their spending through higher gas, electricity or water bills and transport fares.
Paying for it with energy bills
£214bn of private funding in the UK works out as a whopping £1,150 per household per year. In reality, that’s not how much each of us will see our bills rise. It’s more complicated than that. Companies might recoup their costs over a longer or shorter time. Businesses also pay bills, so will pay for some of these costs. But that gives you an idea of the scale we’re talking about.
At Which?, we’re concerned that no one has a proper grip on how this investment will filter through into consumer bills, and whether we can actually afford it. As you will know from reading the papers and your bank statements, the price of these essential services has risen a lot in the last few years.
We want to see better scrutiny of infrastructure spending. This will ensure it is being delivered efficiently, offers value for money, and is affordable for consumers. Tomorrow, the House of Commons will debate an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill that we’re backing. The amendment would create an independent body to scrutinise infrastructure spending and publish its findings. This would allow the Government to check infrastructure projects are on track and decide whether new investment is affordable for consumers.
Are you worried about the costs of new infrastructure projects? Are there other issues relating to infrastructure that concern you?