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UK risks becoming ‘uncompetitive’, says IFoA

The UK is not investing enough in infrastructure and risks becoming “globally uncompetitive”, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) warns. 


4 MAY 2016 | BY CINTIA CHEONG

Solar and wind energy © Shutterstock
The UK risks becoming uncompetitive for not investing enough in infrastructure. © Shutterstock


It says the reasons for the country’s underinvestment include uncertainties around future revenues, political developments that could lead to less favourable tax and concerns about being unable to contain losses due to the illiquid nature of the investments. 

In a report published by the IFoA, infrastructure investment is “positively correlated” with GDP growth and “integral” to supporting the country’s economy. 

“Well functioning infrastructure provides support for the delivery of essential services such as energy and water, or for moving goods in trade,” says the IFoA in the document. 

It warns that with the UK’s existing infrastructure becoming older, the country risks being not able to support its growing, ageing population, adding: “At a time when populations are also expanding globally with the rise of the Asian and Latin American economies, we are further at risk of becoming globally uncompetitive.”

The IFoA acknowledges potential investors may have a number of concerns about deciding to invest in infrastructure. Some have less experience of this area compared to established asset classes like equities or corporate bonds. 

However, the Institute believes that the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) is helping to restore investors’ confidence.

Launched by the UK government in October last year, the NIC will look at the country’s infrastructure needs and set out priorities for projects. The IFoA believes NIC’s assessments will help promote planning, help make timely investment decisions and provide greater certainty for investors. 

IFoA Finance and Investment Board chair Brandon Horwitz said: “The creation of the National Infrastructure Commission last year creates a major opportunity for the UK to reverse decades of underinvestment, and will help to reduce uncertainty for investors. The Commission will need to attack deep-set issues driving investor behavior and build confidence in what is a new sector to many.”

The IFoA is also calling on the government to develop a sustainable pipeline of infrastructure projects that “fit into a coherent, long term strategy”. 

It also points out the need for different types of investment approach to issues such as financing, regulation and risk management; funding models should recognise that investors with greater risk appetites will tend to get involved in projects at an earlier stage than more cautious investors.