Infrastructure gets boost in chancellor’s Statement

Author: The MJ   |  

Despite bleak economic forecasts, chancellor, George Osborne, was able to announce additional investment in local authorities as part of his Autumn Statement ? including new schools, housing and infrastructure projects.

Funding for the various projects would, the chancellor stated, come from further savings in current public spending plans, including public sector pay restraint.

An additional œ5bn of spending on infrastructure would, he said, be made available over the next three years, and the Government has listed 500 projects ? such as roads, railway, waste facilities and broadband networks ? it wants to see built in the next decade.

With immediate effect, the coalition has given the green light to 35 new road and rail schemes, including electrification of the trans-Pennine express between Manchester and Leeds, cash for the Tyne and Wear Metro, and a new rail link between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Education secretary, Michael Gove, has received an extra œ1.2bn to spend on schools as part of the boost in infrastructure cash, with money divided equally between help for local authorities with the greatest need for school places and œ600m to establish an additional 100 free schools.

Bolstering attempts to rebalance the economy and support areas deemed over-dependent on public sector employment, an additional œ1bn has been earmarked for the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), which has already allocated œ1.4bn to 169 applicants across England.

Two new enterprise zones ? in Humberside and Lancashire ? have also received approval, bringing the total number of special designated economic areas to 24.

To encourage manufacturing and industry into the zones in Liverpool, Sheffield, the Tees Valley, Humber, the Black Country and North East, 100% capital allowances have been granted.

The Autumn Statement also confirmed that tenants could be offered a 50% discount on their social housing property under a revitalised right-to-buy (RTB) scheme, with the receipts used to build a new affordable home for every home purchased.

The statement also suggested that city mayors, and partner local authorities, could be given freedoms to borrow against income received through the community infrastructure levy (CIL) as part of the Government’s commitment to deliver tax increment financing (TIF) powers.

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