Transport clear winner as Govt shells out on infrastructure
The Treasury announced one of the biggest transport infrastructure programmes in UK history today, committing £28bn to roads up to 2020 and £50.1bn to High Speed Rail 2 (HS2).
In a speech to the Commons today, chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, detailed a £100bn capital investment programme that focussed heavily on transport including what he claimed was the largest investment in roads for 40 years.
‘This government will invest over £28bn over the 6 years from 2014 in enhancements and maintenance of national and local roads,' he said.
Mr Alexander revealed £10bn would be spent in road repairs between 2015-16 and 2020-21.
'More than £4bn of that money will be spent on national road maintenance – enough to resurface over 21,000 miles of road; the equivalent of London to Beijing and back. The other £6bn of that money will be spent at a local level – allowing local authorities to fill the equivalent of 19 million pot holes a year.'
Mr Alexander stressed the importance of investing in the UK’s road network, claiming: ‘our road system has been decaying for decades, and without further significant investment now, by 2040 nearly a quarter of all those motorists’ travel time could be spent stuck in traffic’.
He also revealed the Highways Agency will be transformed into a publicly owned corporation, 'that will have the long term funding certainty and flexibility to deliver the best possible road network for the UK’s motorists’.
He added the Government would be ‘legislating to ensure these reforms and this investment is guaranteed’.
On HS2 Mr Alexander announced ‘a funding envelope of £42.6bn for construction costs and £7.5 billion for rolling stock [in 2011 prices]’.
Mr Alexander alluded to the fact this figure is larger that the estimated £32bn costs, but stated the Government had learned lessons from the spiralling costs of the Olympics and was setting a tight budget.
He said the Government wanted to ensure ‘the long term financial certainty for HS2' while warning that ‘the people running the project will have to deliver within it’.
Mr Alexander also unveiled more cash for flood defences, promising to provide £370m in 2015, with that figure set to increase in real terms every year to 2020, to help more than 400,000 households with flood protection.
He also revealed the Government has reached an initial agreement with the Association of British Insurers on the future of flood insurance.
'The industry’s proposed scheme, known as Flood Re, promises to effectively limit insurance prices for high-risk households,’ Mr Alexander revealed.
‘Up to 500,000 households would be helped, with support targeted towards those on lower incomes. Support would be funded by a levy on insurers; something the ABI has promised us will not increase customer bills in general. Importantly, there will be no cost to taxpayers.’
He added the Government is legislating to have the power to regulate the industry to ensure affordable flood insurance, ‘should that prove necessary’. The powers will come in under the Water Bill, which is being presented to Parliament today.
Other announcements included green lights for schemes on:
The A19 between Newcastle and South Shields; The A63 in Hull; The M6 junctions between Birmingham and Manchester; The M5 junctions Bromsgrove to Worcester; The A38 Derby Junctions The M1 junction near Long Eaton and south of Rugby; The A21 Tonbridge to Pembury Junctions on the M4 The M23 Gatwick junctions; The A27 Chichester bypass; The A27 corridor, the trans-Pennine route, and connectivity to Leeds Airport.
A commitment to remain at the ‘forefront of de-carbonising road transport, investing in electric vehicles’.
A guarantee of up to £500m to support investment in the Mersey Gateway Bridge.