Infrastructure; Infrastructure;

A faster (business) case for change

The pandemic has offered everyone a chance to revisit and rethink their priorities. Many national governments are now enacting stimulus programmes, targeting infrastructure spending, keen to shore up demand and re-energise their economies. With big ambitions to ‘build back better’ (and greener), public sector organisations and authorities have a unique opportunity to decide which initiatives to progress, and turn infrastructure investments into local benefits at speed.   

Spending (wisely) can be harder than it sounds. That’s why we have developed a new rapid decision making framework that can speed up the process of option selection, provide much needed transparency and deliver schemes that can deliver real community benefits. 

Infrastructure investment makes sense now, more than ever, but a crisis and a pot of funding alone don’t necessarily clarify the decision about which projects to progress. In prioritising these initiatives, and responding to the post-Covid landscape of policy concerns (including disparate aims such as achieving net zero emissions, encouraging active modes of transport, ‘levelling up’ communities, and town centre regeneration) authorities do not have the luxury of time.

Instead of spending many months and hundreds of thousands of pounds building an outline business case (as was the norm before the pandemic), it’s time to be nimble, pick winners, and get started. Our new service provides a framework for response, one that authorities can map value to priorities and needs, sifting the essential ideas from the merely sound.  

Construction site Construction site
Infrastructure investment makes sense now, more than ever, but a crisis and a pot of funding alone don’t necessarily clairfy the decision about which projects to progress.

Turning investments into benefits

So, how should authorities pick the best projects for investment? We see three main requirements: deliver sustainable economic growth, harness the opportunities coming from the crisis, and deliver on other existing policy aims. 

A good example is the call for a green recovery. It’s an aim shared with central government, so initiatives that accelerate the transition to net zero are bound to be high on the list of projects. But there are still questions within this broad aim. Should we transition the bus fleet to renewable energy, subsidise home loft insulations, or increase the number of electric vehicle charge points? Or attempt to pursue all three? The need for a guiding, sifting framework is clear. 

Encouraging active travel

Similarly, active travel could be encouraged by more cycle lanes, but where should they go? 

Or is the money better spent on marketing and awareness campaigns to increase the diversity, as well as the volume, of cycle users?

It’s important to gauge the benefits rigorously. 

Longer term schemes that aim to ‘level up’ local economies, pose other questions. Should we pedestrianise a town centre, invest in training and skills, or build a zero-emission metro service? Decision-makers need a quick and thorough way to weigh complex, interconnected options in a rapid way that can persuade stakeholders and public support.  


A new rapid transit system for Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority were keen to find new ways to bring people into the city. In just six weeks, we were able to assess the merits of full pedestrianisation, mass transit options, and ‘blue-sky’ ideas such as aerial, elevated systems. The review was carried out to ensure the assessment criteria are consistent with local, regional and national strategic priorities. Our swift recommendations, and auditable, transparent report, allowed the authority to begin progressing the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM) scheme at speed, and to begin negotiations with central government on funding and financing arrangements. 

Climate action planning in LA

Climate action planning in LA

Before the crisis, Los Angeles already had its Sustainability plan in place. We have supported them by identifying and short-listing relevant climate mitigation and adaption options; providing costings; providing stakeholder mapping and engagement, and calculating the benefits related to each option. The result? The City has continued to move quickly, developing an action plan that addresses carbon emissions, air quality, health benefits, and job creation. 


UK Department for Business, Energy, Innovation and Skills (BEIS) – making effective and rapid energy policy choices

We have been helping BEIS to sift options for a green and resilient recovery from COVID-19 focusing on supporting employment; making a contribution to net zero, delivering skills, and speed of delivery. Our team estimated impacts of potential schemes that could help with economic recovery including building occupancy, energy use, carbon emissions and future job creation. This work is informing wider government policy on the UK’s recovery from COVID-19. 

Choose, validate, initiate

Our approach might be quicker, but it still provides an effective validation process that can lead to sound investments, ones that produce quick returns. Our new methodology examines the authority’s existing objectives, comes up with a process, marks it, and picks the most favoured option. This means you can still move fast, gain public confidence, with a robust, auditable approach, at a lower fee.  

A timeline for quick success

Before the Coronavirus, developing a business case might take up to a year. Our new approach gets this done in months, enabling authorities to participate in stimulus programmes more rapidly. The core decision making process can also be reduced, to under six weeks.

A faster business case for change A faster business case for change

Seize the moment

Our message to local leaders is clear: don’t waste this opportunity to pivot in a better direction, and achieve something of lasting value in your community. It’s a time to be bold and take some inspiring decisions, backed by a solid and rapid, decision-making framework.