THE new British government-backed UK Infrastructure Bank opened in Leeds on June 17, with the government claiming it will play an important role in its National Infrastructure Strategy.

The bank will complement the existing expertise of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) and National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) and is set to begin lending to local authorities later this summer.

The bank will initially have £12bn of capital to deploy, consisting of £5bn equity and £7bn of debt, while it will be able to issue £10bn of government guarantees, helping to unlock more than £40bn of overall investment. The Treasury and the bank have entered into a Keep Well Agreement to ensure the bank has sufficient funds to meet its payment obligations in full as they fall due.

This forms part of the British government’s plans to deliver more than £600bn in gross public sector investment over the next five years. Chancellor of the exchequer, Mr Rishi Sunak, says the bank will support the British government’s efforts to invest billions of pounds in ”world-class infrastructure that will support people, businesses and communities” in every part of the country.

From June 17 the bank will be able to issue loans, equity, or guarantees to private projects.

“The railway industry looks forward to working with the bank, to generate a rail-led recovery post-pandemic, with rail investment creating jobs and economic growth across the UK,” says Railway Industry Association chief executive, Mr Darren Caplan. “Interestingly, the bank’s location in Leeds would mean it would be one of the many beneficiaries - alongside communities across the UK - of HS2 being delivered in full, with the Eastern Leg connecting Birmingham to Leeds. So, we continue to urge the government to publish the Integrated Rail Plan and give the green light to the Eastern Leg, unlocking the full connectivity and economic benefits HS2 provides.”