UK ‘will consider bringing financing options together’

Treasury minister says finance review to begin soon; UK Guarantees programme ‘not been impacted’ by EIB uncertainty

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick has said that the government’s infrastructure review will consider whether to bring the government’s financing options “under a single heading”.

Speaking to the Lords EU financial affairs sub-committee, Jenrick gave some indication of how the government is preparing to replace European Investment Bank (EIB) funding after the UK leaves the European Union.

“We would like to secure an ongoing relationship with the EIB,” he said. “But that will be a matter for the negotiations on our future relationship with the institutions and the rest of the European Union.”

He added that the government’s infrastructure review will look at the potential of bringing together a range of Treasury financing mechanisms, such as the UK Guarantees Scheme and the British Business Bank, to discover whether putting them under a “single heading” could improve the flow of finance.

Jenrick added that the government intends to bring forward that review “either at the end of this year or very early next year”.

The minister also highlighted the range of financing mechanisms open to government to bring in private investment, rather than simply focusing on creating a new institution to replace the EIB.

“We are trying to ensure that other sources of private capital are available. We have worked very intensively since the patient capital review with the pensions industry, for example, trying to ensure more pension funds invest in long-term, higher risk investments than they have been willing to do to date,” he said.

When questioned on whether the impending loss of the EIB from UK infrastructure investment will have an impact on projects’ availability, Jenrick suggested evidence so far was that it had not.

“We haven’t detected a large number of projects that are failing to find funding that might otherwise have found it through the EIB,” he said. “So we haven’t had a significant uptake in enquiries for the guarantees scheme for example, as a result of any diminution of funds available through the EIB.”