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Chancellor commits to 'infrastructure revolution' as spending plans revealed

Kylla • 4th Sep 2019
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Chancellor commits to 'infrastructure revolution' as spending plans revealed

Government to outline National Infrastructure Strategy in autumn

Chancellor Sajid Javid has pledged to commit to an 'infrastructure revolution' as he reveals details of the government's planned expenditure over the next 12 months.

In a spending round statement, widely seen as a pitch to the nation ahead of an expected imminent election, Javid said the government was committed to investing in infrastructure. 

Sajid Javid making his Spending Round statement

He said: "We want to build and invest in every region and nation of this United Kingdom.

"The first priority of our new economic plan will be to rebuild our national infrastructure.

"High quality and reliable infrastructure is essential for how we live, work and travel but the truth is across many decades governments of all colours have under-invested in infrastructure."

And in what he hopes will win over voters in the regions and the devolved nations if a snap election is held in October, he added: "We want to build and invest in every region and nation of this United Kingdom.

From the motor highway to the information highway… we’ll settle for nothing less than an infrastructure revolution."

Construction's key points from the spending round update:

  • £24m additional funding for the Building Safety Programme to support the new building safety regime
  • "Over £2bn of new NHS capital funding" – starting with an upgrade to 20 hospitals this year
  • Increase of the Ministry of Justice's capital budget to £620m in 2020 to support the creation of 10,000 new prison places
  • Confirmed funding of £3.6bn for the new Towns Fund - providing a wave of investment for the regions
  • £400m funding boost for further education - which could help with skills crisis
  • An unspecified amount of additional funding to help Homes England deliver more homes

Javid said the government would formally announce its new National Infrastructure Strategy, which is a response to work carried out by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), in the autumn.

He also reaffirmed a commitment to the NIC, saying the government will "continue to rely on its expert advice".

Javid also said the government would "do more to give private investors the confidence to back these projects".

While reiterating the government's commitment to funding the Leeds to Manchester section of Northern Powerhouse Rail, Javid provided no guarantees about the future of HS2.

He said: "We’ll set a high bar for funding projects, and they’ll have to show real value for money, with credible delivery plans and budgets starting with the government’s rapid review of HS2."

Responding to Javid's statement NIC chair Sir John Armitt said the government needed to be careful not to get carried away with "revolutionary plans".

He said: “The chancellor is right to recognise the UK must up its game on infrastructure, but any revolutionary plans for digital connectivity, improvements to failing urban transport networks and expanding clean energy must be translated into effective actions.

“The government must therefore ensure its forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy is truly long-term in outlook, backed by clear goals and stable and ambitious funding, and genuinely committed to a change in approach."

He also said he hoped Javid was "true to his word" about accepting the NIC's "expert advice".

Brian Berry, chief executive at the Federation of Master Builders, said it was imperative that tackling the housing crisis was included in the government's infrastructure plans.

He said: "The housing crisis is undermining the British economy. If we are to increase productivity and improve our competitive edge on the world stage, then building more new homes must form part of the government’s campaign to upgrade our infrastructure."

Javid also said the government would spend another £2bn on managing Brexit next year, with this set to include the creation of "better transport infrastructure at our ports [and] more support for business readiness".

He also said that details of a decarbonisation plan would be revealed as part of the National Infrastructure Strategy. 

Javid reaffirmed the government would spend £500m on the 2022 Commonwealth Games, saying "the Games will be a huge boost for the West Midlands"

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