Budget confirms more ‘levelling up’ and ‘green growth’ as part of infrastructure investment

Funding for the West Midlands Combined Authority, Greater Manchester, Combined Authority and Liverpool City Region for intra-city transport settlements were amomg the commitments in Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak’s latest budget, taking spending on transport for 2021-22 to over £50 billion in total.

As part of that, he also committed £135 million to accelerate the start of the construction on the A66 Trans-Pennine upgrade and £50 million to develop transport improvements around High Speed 2 Birmingham Interchange Station.

Leeds will be the location for the new Infrastructure Bank, which will be supplie by £12 billion of capital to invest.

As part of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, the Chancellor also announced the first round of the levelling up fund, which will be available for local areas to submit bids for the first round of funding starting in 2021-22. He said £4bn will be available for England and £800m for communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The chancellor also confirmed over £1bn from the Towns Fund for a further 45 Town Deals across England and there will be a new National Infrastructure Commission study on towns and regeneration, to further consider this type of investment.

Alongside this, the Treasury published Build Back Better: our plan for growth, which it said would set out the Government’s plans to support economic growth through ‘significant investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation’.

Across the construction sector in general, there is to be a super-deduction tax incentive – a new two year super deduction tax for companies investing in qualifying plant and machinery. Companies will receive a 130% tax rebate on investment, meaning a firm spending £10m on materials, will now receive a £13m tax reduction compared to £2.6m under the
current system.

Supporting apprenticeships across different employers, the government will introduce a £7million fund from July 2021 to help employers in England set up and expand portable apprenticeships. This will enable people who need to work cross multiple projects with different employers to benefit from the high quality long term-training that an apprenticeship provides.

Elsewhere in transport, there was a commitment of up to £30 million towards the construction of the Global Centre of Rail Excellence, a train testing facility in Wales. The Global Centre for Rail Excellence would
support innovation in the UK’s rail industry, including the testing of cutting-edge, green technology

Other highlights included the announcement of the creation of eight new Freeports to be based in East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe & Harwich,
Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside. These freeports will benefit from tax reliefs and simplified custom procedures – designed to support growth in exporting.

Asphalt Idustry Alliance Chair, Rick Green said he wanted to see a long-term commitment for road maintenance in the budget. “Our local road network has a vital role to play in supporting our communities and economic growth as we reset after the pandemic. What was needed from the Chancellor today was a five-year commitment to investing in local roads, to allow local highway authorities to plan ahead and implement a more cost-effective whole-life approach to upgrades and maintenance.

“It is completely counterproductive, just weeks after announcing a £500m pothole fund for the coming year, that local authorities are now finding out that other funding streams that they rely on to maintain their local road networks are already being cut.  We recognise difficult choices are having to be made at present, but this giving with one hand and taking away with another’ doesn’t make sense – it will only lead to deteriorating road conditions and a rising bill to put them right.”


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