A number of infrastructure initiatives were revealed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, in his Autumn Statement last week.
Whilst sharing his plans the Chancellor made clear that his philosophy is to invest today for the economy of the future, even if this means more borrowing in the short term. Thus the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) spending programme is to provide £23 billion of additional spending, ensuring the UK’s economy is fit for the future.
The NPIF will provide major additional spending in areas that are key to boosting productivity: transport and its infrastructure, and housing.
Outside England, money being handed by Westminster to the devolved administrations has been earmarked for infrastructure projects. The funds amount to an increase of:
- Over £800 million to the Scottish Government
- Over £400 million to the Welsh Government
- Over £250 million to the Northern Ireland Executive
Damian Hennessey, Commercial Director at digital manufacturing firm Proto Labs, commented:
“We welcome the investment into innovation and infrastructure announced by the Government; this move will help to increase manufacturing productivity and improve our customers’ ability to get their products to market more quickly.”
£2.3 billion will be made available for a new Housing Infrastructure Fund, which will cover projects such as roads and water connections and will support the construction of up to 100,000 new homes in the areas where they are needed most.
£1.4 billion is to be provided for 40,000 new affordable homes, including some for shared ownership and some for affordable rent, whilst a further £1.7 billion will speed up the construction of new homes on public sector land.
The Chancellor announced a £390 million investment into future transport technology, driverless cars, renewable fuels and energy efficient transport. This will include:
- £100 million investment in testing infrastructure for driverless cars
- £150 million to provide at least 550 new electric and hydrogen buses and to support taxis to become zero emission
- £80 million to install more charge-points for ultra-low emission vehicles
- A two-year 100% first year allowance for companies which install electric charge-points, coming into effect immediately. This will allow companies to deduct the cost of the charge-point from their pre-tax profits in that year
As part of the National Productivity Investment Fund, transport infrastructure spending will include:
- £1.1 billion to reduce congestion and upgrade local roads and public transport
- £220 million to tackle road safety and congestion on Highways England roads
- £27 million to develop an expressway connecting Oxford and Cambridge
- £450 million will also be spent on trialling railway digital signalling technology which will expand capacity and improve reliability
Tina Hallet, Government and Public Sector leader at PwC, called the Autumn Statement a step in the right direction but warned that there was still work to be done:
“Though the Prime Minister and Chancellor have changed, the problems the country is facing have not. For public finances to be repaired, including a higher stream of tax revenues, we also need real incomes to grow, which ultimately requires higher productivity. But income growth is meaningless if the cost of living also grows and the people ‘just about managing’ or not managing at all feel no difference day-to-day.
“Today’s announcement does recognise the need for people to feel investment, for example, a cash injection into small infrastructure schemes, like road repairs, quickly make a difference to the daily commute.
“While this type of investment produces a ‘quick win’ for the government, they still need to address the underlying issues which keep many families living in poverty, struggling to manage. The Poverty Premium – where the poorer you are, the more likely you are to pay higher costs for goods and services – is an example of a fundamental problem which we need to address to help prevent a deepening of the social mobility challenge in this country.”
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