Budget 2020: boost in infrastructure spending confirmed

11th Mar 2020

Today (11/03/2020) the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the first budget from the government. It had already been speculated that the government was going to boost infrastructure spending by £2.5bn for potholes over the next five years and on the whole more than £600bn into infrastructure: rail and road, housing, broadband and research. This was confirmed in today's budget.

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CIHT is pleased that the 2020 Budget acknowledges the importance of transport infrastructure to the UK. Investment in fully functioning transport infrastructure is essential to underpinning a successful economy and has been at the forefront of CIHT’s vision for a prosperous future for the UK. CIHT has long called for the certainty and clarity of long-term funding for the infrastructure sector and has welcomed the changes made in this regard for the Strategic Road Network. 

The Conservative manifesto talked of an “infrastructure revolution” with the Government’s plans for infrastructure investment to be set out in the National Infrastructure Strategy, and today some of the details of this were revealed. However, some detail is still to be confirmed as it was announced last week that the detailed 30-year strategy would be delayed, to allow the chancellor to incorporate the increased spending on infrastructure in to the strategy as well as the challenge of achieving 'net zero' in the next 30 years, and more detail will be made in the Comprehensive Spending Review. 

As he announced the budget the chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "If the country needs it, we will build it". More than £600bn over the next five years was announced for infrastructure. 

Announcements on infrastructure:

  • More than £600bn on infrastructure: broadband, rail, roads and housing.
  • A new £2.5bn pothole fund – enough to fill 50 million potholes by the end of this Parliament. This is in line with the National Infrastructure Commission's recommendation in their National Infrastructure Assessment which the National Infrastructure Strategy will be the formal response to. 
  • Over £27.4bn for the Strategic Road Network; Details of road schemes will be published later today by the Department for Transport in their Road Investment Strategy 2.
  • The seven metro mayors outside of London will get London style funding settlements in addition to the Transforming Cities Fund. £4.2 billion from 2022-23 for five-year funding settlements for eight Mayoral Combined Authorities. As a first step, the government will open discussions with Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and the West Midlands in the coming months.
  • Nearly £1.1bn of allocations from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to build nearly 70,000 new homes in high demand areas across the country.
  • The government is also investing £20 million to develop the Midlands Rail Hub, progressing plans for a major programme of improvements to rail services across these regions.
  • Allocations of over £1 billion from the Transforming Cities Fund confirmed. 
  • The government also intends to deliver better local transport for towns, rural areas and other cities. In February, the Prime Minister announced £5 billion of new funding for buses and cycling. Further details will be announced at the Comprehensive Spending Review, alongside a National Bus Strategy.

Announcements on protecting the environment:

  • £500m to support the rollout of new rapid charging hubs, so that drivers are never more than 30 miles away from being able to charge up their car.
  • Doubling investment in flood defences over the next six years to £5.2bn protecting over 300,000 properties.
  • Over the next five years, we will plant around 30,000 hectares of trees – that’s a forest larger than Birmingham - and restore 35,000 hectares of peatland. 

In CIHT's budget submission to HM Treasury, it outlined the areas that government should focus investment on. In light of these, CIHT are pleased with the today's announcement, but details of spending has yet to be seen in the National Infrastructure Strategy. Our recommendations included;

  1. Developing a national transport strategy
    CIHT calls for the government to set out a clear vision and strategy that sets out how transport will contribute to key policy areas.
  2. Providing certainty for the sector on key projects and programmes
    CIHT calls for the government to confirm the details of the second Road Investment Strategy for the Strategic Highways Network and to confirm the timing of HS2 as part of the budget announcements. 

  3. Improving the local highway network
    CIHT calls for the government to commit to deliver a four-point strategy for the Local Road Network that will create a vision, funding and focus to the local road network over the next ten years.

  4. Supporting a sustainable and healthy transport network
    CIHT calls for the government to invest in the development of sustainable and active travel by supporting the development of improved capability across the sector, confirming its bus strategy and funding package and identifying cross departmental funding to support the switch to sustainable and active travel.

  5. Road Safety
    CIHT calls for the government to develop a long-term strategy for significantly reducing the number of people killed and injured on our roads. This will require a clear vision for how that will be achieved and funding to deliver the strategy. CIHT will work with the government and others across that sector to deliver that strategy.

  6. Skills and capability
    CIHT calls for the government to work with the highways and transportation sector to produce a clear strategy for developing the workforce to deliver the governments transport strategy. This would enable the UK to export those skills and capability internationally.

  7. Resilient networks
    CIHT calls for transport resilience assessments to be made a statutory requirement for all transport asset owners to identify vulnerable areas and for a central fund to be established to support the mitigation of these vulnerable areas.
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