UK government spent £18.9bn on infrastructure projects, new figures reveal

The latest data shows the government spent £18.9bn on infrastructure projects in 2016 - accounting for 36% of total government investment in the year.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) identify that over 85% of the £18.9bn was on transport infrastructure with almost 40% of the investment funded by local government and the remainder coming from central government.

The 36% of total government investment spent on infrastructure calculated by researchers was up from 25% in 2010, while it has been estimated the market sector of the economy spent £10.3bn on infrastructure in 2016 – with £7bn invested via the energy industry.

Data released today also highlights the important role that the private sector plays within the industry. The value of infrastructure construction work by the construction sector in 2017 equated to £19.7bn, of which 63% carried out on behalf of private sector clients and the remainder accounted for by the public sector.

The largest type of work in 2017 was electricity, with work by construction firms on electricity infrastructure amounting to £8.9 billion. This has increased over the period due largely to the construction of wind farms. Construction of roads added a further £4.2 billion to the total in 2017.

Regional statistics present some interesting findings with 31% of new construction work in the north east in 2017 being infrastructure projects - the largest such share of any region. Rather more surprisingly, the lowest share of infrastructure in total new construction work in 2017 was in the west midlands (7%), and closely followed by London (11%). 

Researchers blame the sharp fall in infrastructure share within the capital from 30% in 2011 on other types of construction with private housing construction rising notably.

On the supply side, the construction industry built £19.7bn of new infrastructure in 2017, and carried out a further £8.8bn on repair and maintenance. Of the new work, 37% was carried out on behalf of public sector clients - the highest public share since 2014, according to the ONS.

The data collected identified six types of physical capital assets to measure calculations on. These six sectors included; transport, energy, water, waste, communications and flood defences which were defined as “economic infrastructure”.

Neither housing nor social infrastructure (such as the education and health systems) were included in the research.

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