Philip Hammond’s Budget unveils £25.3bn investment in UK roads
The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has welcomed the investment the government has announced for the UK's major road networks, but warns that much more funding is still needed for local roads.
In his Autumn Budget 2018 speech, Chancellor Philip Hammond revealed a package for the second Road Investment Strategy of £25.3 billion for 2020 to 2025.
The investment, largely funded by road tax, is 66% higher than the previous five-year plan’s £15.2 billion, which former Chancellor George Osborne announced in his 2015 Budget.
“It should be remembered that as we move towards a largely electric vehicle fleet, the government must think about other forms of revenue to pay for major road development and maintenance,” said ICE Head of Policy and Public Affairs Chris Richards.
“A pay-as-you-go road charging scheme should be considered, as ICE recommended in its recent State of the Nation report ‘Infrastructure Investment’, for the nation’s busiest roads to ensure the long-term security of revenue for continued maintenance and upgrades.”
Local road repairs
The government is also ”immediately” releasing additional millions of pounds to help councils fix potholes and carry out bridge and other minor repairs.
“The government’s commitment of £420 million for local highways authorities to tackle immediate issues before the end of the year will be welcomed by local authorities and those who’ve seen the state of their roads declined as budgets get tightened.
“However, this is a small dent in the significant funding gap identified by the National Infrastructure Commission for local roads and should be seen as just the beginning of efforts to further improve local roads,” said Richards.
Hammond also announced £150 million of National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) funding for councils to use on small improvement projects "such as roundabouts".
National Infrastructure Commission response
Meanwhile, the government said that it will publish a National Infrastructure Strategy next year, in response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) National Infrastructure Assessment.
It has also commissioned a new NIC study, to be published in spring 2020, on how to improve the resilience of the UK’s infrastructure in light of technological advances and future challenges such as climate change.
Climate change, as highlighted by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was the key theme of the Global Engineering Congress last week.
The Congress brought over 2,500 engineers from over 80 countries to ICE’s London headquarters to discuss how the industry can help achieve the UN SDGs.
The Budget also briefly addressed how Brexit will affect the infrastructure industry:
“The government will review its existing support for infrastructure finance, to ensure that it continues to meet market needs as the UK leaves the EU.”
ICE’s State of the Nation 2018: Infrastructure Investment has recommended the creation of a UK investment bank to fill the gap that would be left if access to the European Investment Bank (EIB) were to close.
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