Rishi Sunak says free ports will deliver ‘growth and prosperity'
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The Chancellor announced last year his plan to create the UK Infrastructure Bank to help ministers level up the country and combat climate change. Officially launching the bold new investment strategy in Leeds this morning, Mr Sunak pledged to an initial £12billion in capital with the ability to issue a further £10billion of Government guarantees.
It is hoped the new plans will help lead to over £40billion of investment overall.
The bank will help to finance radical and innovative projects in every region and nation of the UK in sectors including clean energy, transport, digital, water and waste.
It plays a part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s wider agenda to ramp up infrastructure and services into parts of the country that have previously suffered from under-investment.
Mr Sunak said: “Opening its doors today, the UK Infrastructure Bank will accelerate our ambitions for tackling climate change and levelling up, while creating new opportunities across the UK as part of our Plan for Jobs.
“Through the Bank, we are investing billions of pounds in world class infrastructure that will support people, businesses and communities in every corner of the UK.”
The new UK Infrastructure Bank is a larger part of ministers’ new investment plans.
It forms a part of the Government’s National Infrastructure Strategy and will target investment in projects that align with UK interests.
In total Mr Sunak committed to spending £100billion on capital expenditure this year to help ramp up Britain’s infrastructure.
As Britain looks to bounce back from the coronavirus crisis, the bank will also aim to play a role in Government’s “jobs-led recovery” strategy.
Ministers are hoping to keep unemployment figures low in the aftermath of the pandemic by offering new opportunities to Brits.
The bank will work in partnership with local government and the private sector to help fund investment tailored to the needs of specific projects.
The Chair of the UK Infrastructure Bank, Chris Grigg, said: “The new UK Infrastructure Bank is open for business.
“I am delighted to be leading this institution, which will be a catalyst for investment to support regional economic growth and net zero ambitions.
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“I look forward to building strong partnerships with project sponsors, institutions and local leaders.”
The bank’s creation comes after the House of Lords’ EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee called on the Government to commit to such a project in 2019.
Peers said the bank’s creation would help replace the money given to projects by the European Investment Bank (EIB) now Britain was out of the EU.
Committee chair Baroness Falkner of Margravine said at the time: “The UK’s infrastructure, and the industries that depend on infrastructure spending, will be hurt if the government does not quickly find a way of plugging the funding gap that will be created.”
The EIB gave more than £100billion to the UK between 1973 and 2020.
However, after the 2016 referendum funding from the bank rapidly dropped off.
The lack of funding after June 2016 came despite the UK still being a member of the bloc until January 31 2020.
Britain continued to pay in full membership costs for the bloc until the start of this year when the EU transition period ended.
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