Infrastructure Suggest a change

National Infrastructure in the National Interest

Too much of the national infrastructure that society relies heavily upon is operated for private profit. The predictable result being:

  • profits line the pockets of shareholders, instead of being used to improve services
  • shareholders often squirrel away their dividends in tax havens, withholding much needed tax revenue that can be used to benefit society
  • commercial interest is put before public interest
  • infrastructure improvements are lacklustre or dismissed over keeping costs down and profits up

Community Interest Companies

In order to ensure that essential infrastructure is run in the interests of wider society, any organisation performing a function that is essential to the UK’s infrastructure (a National Infrastructure Organisation or NIO) will be required to be a Community Interest Company operated for the benefit of the British public. This has a few benefits:

  • Organisations are subject to the community interest test, requiring them to ensure their activities benefit their community (the British public)
  • Profits must be reinvested, ensuring surpluses go towards service improvement
  • Dividends are still acceptable, allowing for existing or new shareholders to maintain their stake and reap financial rewards for investing in the furtherance of the public benefit aims of the organisation

In addition to the public interest test, additional requirements will be placed upon NIOs:

  • All staff must receive at least a living wage
  • The highest pay must not exceed 5 times the national average wage
  • Full financial accounts must be published openly, with no charge for access
  • An annual report must be produced providing a breakdown of money spent on service improvement and on dividends, with each dividend payment itemised including the recipient

Requiring these will help to ensure NIOs are responsible, transparent businesses.


A number of existing organisations are specifically targeted by this policy:

  • Network Rail
  • Royal Mail
  • BT1
  • Highways Agency
  • Existing Toll Roads
  • Mobile phone masts2
  • State-funded Schools
  • NHS Hospitals, GP surgeries & health centres
  • Prisons, courts
  • Energy generation and distribution (power stations, gas pipes, water pipes etc)

To be an effective policy, it will also cover any organisation performing one of the following functions:

  • operating public rail services
  • operating public bus services

A Compromise on Nationalisation

NIOs are intended to provide the basic infrastructure that is essentially to a functioning society in a way that is protected from the volatility of shareholder whims. They provide the basics for innovators to provide services on top of, and without simply placing the entire service burden onto the state through nationalisation.

  1. In the case of BT, the business would be broken up to separate the infrastructure (ducts, cabinets, poles, exchanges) from the commercial business and only the infrastructure side would become subject to the national infrastructure regulation 

  2. In a similar way to BT’s telephone infrastructure, mobile operators would be required to transfer their ownership of masts into NIOs with the rest of their business remaining fully private