Policy 2021


Treasury Review of the Green Book

The DfT is working out how to respond to the Treasury Review of the Green Book.  TPS and other professional bodies are following up their joint work with a follow up meeting planned for January.  They have strongly supported the Treasury’s call for major reforms, including a far greater emphasis on the Strategic Case and using it as a filter to ensure better alignment between the schemes which are promoted and social objectives.  BCRs would be less important, but schemes which do not meet clear objectives would be eliminated at this stage and not go forward to economic assessment in any case.  The initial response to the Treasury can be found here, and a follow up discussion by Keith Buchan and Phil Goodwin can be found here.

Meanwhile DfT is consulting on the length of appraisal time periods – currently up to 60 years.  This raises the thorny issue of discounting – reducing future costs and benefits to present day values.  This sounds obscure but has a major impact on any cost benefit analysis.  In the past it has worked in favour of elements such as time savings, and against environmental impacts, in particular climate change. 

The consultation ends on 15th January and TPS is drafting a response.  An outline is available here. We are gathering views from members in addition to the annual survey which has an ongoing section on appraisal issues and how far members think it needs reform.  The Policy group would like to hear from any members who have practical experience to contribute.  In view of the timescale and the holiday period please send them direct to Keith Buchan, who is co-ordinating the TPS response at skills@tps.org.uk.


Do DfT want 100 years of time savings in appraisal?

 DfT started a consultation at the end of 2020  on the length of time appraisals should take and the discount rates which should be used.  TPS made it clear in its submission that it should be seen in the context of the significant criticisms and urgent reforms which must follow the Green Book Review.  It was wrong to make adjustments aimed at increasing the BCR of schemes when this whole concept had been so strongly criticised and was subject to a current and fundamental review.

The TPS response is in two parts: a discussion of the key issues, and a detailed response to the DfT’s 11 specific questions in the consultation.

TPS set out its objectives in the response as follows:

  • To address the way in which many future impacts are undervalued – although the ones listed in the consultation did not represent the main problem areas.
  • To address uncertainty in appraisal and how it varies widely between impacts: this would be an issue in any circumstances but is particularly important given the changes which are flowing from Covid 19.
  • To contribute to the reforms identified in the Green Book Review, especially to reflect policies for net zero and levelling up: the latter also needs urgent work to provide a better analytical framework and should be a priority.
  • To reform the current system so that appraisal identifies schemes which achieve objectives rather than, as at present, over value schemes which don’t.

TPS suggests a range of solutions in response to this consultation, including:

  • an end to the over discounting of environmental impacts and the under discounting of many time values,
  • using a range of time periods to reflect this,
  • not proceeding with creating larger and even more uncertain BCRs with up to 100 years of non-existent and unmodelled benefits.

It also recommends the revival of the Assessment Summary Table in light of these and other reforms which are part of the joint initiative with LGTAG, CIHT, and RTPI and reported on previously.  Active discussions are continuing with DfT and Treasury.

The full TPS response can be found here  DfT appraisal period response.pdf

The DfT original consultation document can be found on https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/948251/appraisal-periods-consultation.pdf


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