Capital funding of transport projects will increase by 50 per cent to a total of £61 billion, under plans revealed in Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement today (25 November 2015).
However, the the DfT’s operational budget will fall by 37 per cent.
Mr Osborne said: “This funds the largest road investment programme since the 1970s, for we are the builders.
“It means the construction of HS2 to link the Northern Powerhouse to the South can begin. The electrification of lines like the Trans-Pennine, Midland Main Line and Great Western can go ahead.”
The Chancellor confirmed that the government will fund the new Transport for the North (TfN) to get it up and running and that London will get an £11 billion investment in its transport infrastructure.
The government will also spend £250m to relieve the pressure on roads in Kent from Operation Stack and has committed to £300m-worth of cycling investment.
More than £5bn will be spent on roads maintenance during this Parliament. Over the next five years £250m will be spent on a ‘permanent’ pothole fund for local roads.
Elsewhere, the Chancellor has set aside £12bn for the Local Growth Fund and announced 26 new or extended Enterprise Zones, including 15 in towns and rural areas across the country.
You can read the full spending review and Autumn Statement here.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “We are pleased the Chancellor has sought to protect the funds allocated to the Road Investment Strategy as this demonstrates a firm commitment to protect and improve the country’s crucial road transport infrastructure in the longer term.
“The government’s Road Investment Strategy shows that for every £1 spent on the projects identified, the return for the government is £4 in the long term, demonstrating the clear link between investing in the nation’s roads and economic growth.
“The extra £250m being allocated to the Pothole Fund over the next five years is good news but is, of course, no more than a drop in the ocean in terms of the scale of the problem across Britain’s 245,000 miles of road. The government’s own estimated backlog for repairing local roads is up to £8.6bn, which shows the scale of the funding shortage. We urge local authorities to use this money wisely by carrying out preventative maintenance rather than just short-term remedial repairs.
“Although the government has a sound plan in place to finance improvements to major roads, we badly need similar thinking for local roads. We would like to see local authorities given the freedom to allocate funds to bring their roads up to standard which, according to RAC research, is exactly what their council tax payers want.”
Matthew Pryor, managing director of Toppesfield, said: “It’s fantastic news that the government has decided to create a dedicated pot hole fund. For too long motorists have had to contend with crumbling roads over the winter months and cash-strapped councils tasked with repairing them have been operating with one hand behind their backs.
“It’s clear that the UK government has recognised that the UK’s road infrastructure is integral to the health of the economy. The chancellor has put his money where his mouth is by funding the largest road investment programme since the 1970s in order to ensure we have a road network that meets our ambitious growth plans.”
John Hicks, director and UK head of government and public at AECOM, said: “Departmental cuts combined with the scaling back of civil servants necessitates new ways for government to engage both internally and with the private sector. A fundamental shift from hands-on delivery to hands-off governance is needed.
“The Chancellor’s rhetoric around ‘we are the builders’ didn’t appear to be accompanied by significant new money across the board. With transport at the sharp end of departmental revenue cuts, the challenge now is for government to play its part in delivery as the number of public servants further erodes. Are the right people with the right skills, governance and procurement tools in the right place within the public sector to allow the builders to move in? This could be an opportunity for new ways to engage and deliver.
“Given the urgent need to house the UK’s current and future workforce, we welcome the initiative to build 400,000 affordable homes and the Chancellor’s response to the difficulties faced by the shared ownership sector following the changes to Right to Buy. Government investment in Ebbsfleet Garden City and other schemes will further fuel housing growth. However, accelerated home ownership must not come at the expense of the affordable rental sector. History shows that supply has only increased through a balanced, multi-tenure approach. We would therefore like to see greater focus on extending the breadth of development players and encouragement for new entrants. Importantly, homes must be built where there is demand. Building housing in line with infrastructure investment and development is the key to creating communities where people want to live and work. Greater emphasis on sustainable, long-term planning of infrastructure to underpin economic growth is now needed.”
Lord Adonis, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “We need to transform the way we plan and deliver major infrastructure projects in this country. The significant investment announced in today’s Spending Review represents a welcome step in the right direction – but it is only a start.
“We will only truly address the UK’s infrastructure needs if we consistently plan for the long-term – not just over a year or a parliament but through properly assessing and acting on Britain’s strategic needs over the coming 20 to 30 years.
“The new Transport Development Fund provides a valuable opportunity to make early progress in the major projects we require to better connect the great cities of the North and improve London’s transport network. The Chancellor should now look at extending this model to cover long-term strategic requirements across the board. In the coming months the independent National Infrastructure Commission will complete our first three studies, and begin the work leading to the UK’s first National Infrastructure Assessment. We will provide firm recommendations on major projects, strategic direction, and investment – and where government and others can and should do more we will make that clear. To secure the jobs and growth of the future, we have to get serious about planning and delivering the infrastructure this country needs to succeed.”