IoD – Business leaders place the road network at the top of their infrastructure priorities

Responding to the publication of the Infrastructure Progress Review 2024 by the National Infrastructure Commission, new research from the Institute of Directors reveals a significant shift in the infrastructure priorities of business leaders compared with the situation at the start of the current parliamentary term.

The road network is now seen as the most important area for infrastructure investment. In an April survey of Institute of Directors members, this was prioritised by two thirds (66%) of directors, up from 54% in 2019.

Business leaders also highlight the need to develop renewable energy generation and the existing rail network, with broadband networks seen as being a less urgent priority compared to 2019.

Investment in high-speed rail and aviation capacity remains relatively low on the shopping list of business leaders, a view relatively unchanged since 2019.

Commenting on the survey results, Dr. Roger Barker, Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors, said:

“Infrastructure is the backbone of a successful economy, and a prerequisite for economic growth and productivity. However, investment needs to be targeted in the right places. Directors’ assessment of what will deliver the greatest return for the UK economy has evolved over the last five years.

“Directors are increasingly seeking solutions to their everyday transport needs rather than grandiose projects, which are costly and difficult to deliver. They also expect government to support them in their shift to more environmentally sustainable business models, with a particular focus on renewable energy generation and the achievement of net zero.

“Dependable transport links are a key ask from business leaders. A patchy and unreliable framework of cross-country rail connectivity is stifling the movement of people and products. And the road network is suffering the consequences of inconsistent investment and neglect. IoD members find that road and rail problems are particularly felt outside London. The improvement of existing infrastructure links is seen as a more viable solution to these problems than high speed rail.

“The National Infrastructure Commission is right to emphasise the need for a long-term approach. Business needs a roadmap for infrastructure investment that is predictable and shielded as much as possible from the vagaries of the political cycle. Without reliable delivery of infrastructure commitments, business investment will be held back and the economy will fail to achieve its net zero goals.”