The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has pledged £600bn in investment over the next five years for infrastructure and industry in today’s Budget. The announcement will mean that public investment will hit its highest levels since 1955, and will see capital budgets rise over £110m in 2024 and 2025. Part of the deal will see £27bn pledged for the development of the UK’s roads, which will help improve 4,000 miles of roads and more than 100 junctions. He also made a commitment to build the Manchester to Leeds high speed rail link as part of Northern Powerhouse rail, as well as fixing the A303.
The government will also invest £20m in developing the Midlands Rail Hub
As well as building a new station at Cambridge South, part of the Oxford to Cambridge transport corridor. In addition, he announced a £4.2bn fund for the seven so-called metro mayors of England’s devolved city regions to develop transport links, as well as an additional £1bn for transport in cities such as Stoke. The transport pledge came as Sunak announced a new devolution deal for West Yorkshire. Referencing the Grenfell Tower disaster, he also announced a £1bn building safety fund to remove unsafe materials from high tises.
The new capital expenditure, which was widely trailed in the lead-up to the Budget, is at the forefront of the government’s plans for “levelling up” the UK.
Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, described the commitments as “clearly welcome”:“From the railway industry’s perspective, rail suppliers are excited and ready to deliver this ambitious programme of investment to ‘level-up’ opportunities and unlock the full potential of UK rail.
Speaking before the chancellor, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was “about to be an infrastructure revolution in this country”. According to Sunak, these “record” levels of spending will triple the average net investment seen over the past 40 years. The money will be made available for transport infrastructures, such as roads and railways, as well as investment in affordable housing, broadband and research. A £2.5bn package for fixing potholes, which is expected to fix about 10m a year, was already announced as part of the investment.
Colin Wilson, partner at law firm DLA Piper, said that it was time for the government to “stop talking and start building”:
Whilst the statements from the Chancellor today are positive, especially in roads, rail, electric vehicle infrastructure and broadband and also ensuring green, sustainable infrastructure, we need to come back to this in five years’ time and see what has actually been delivered and whether this government has actually got things done, as the Government needs to be measured on the results it achieves
A 30-year national infrastructure strategy, setting out plans for £100bn of spending over the course of this parliament, had been due to be published alongside the Budget.
However, last week it was revealed that the strategy would be delayed until after today’s announcement.