New chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to “get Britain building” in today’s budget, unveiling an additional £175bn in capital investment to “level up” roads, railways, housing and broadband across the country.
The extra money, which forms part of Sunak’s much trailed £640m spending package, means that by 2024 annual expenditure will rise above £110m, triple the average investment over the last 40 years.
Speaking before the chancellor, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was “about to be an infrastructure revolution in this country”, and Sunak went one step further, promising: “If the country needs it, we will build it”.
Part of the deal will see £27.4bn pledged for the development of the UK’s roads, which will help improve 4,000 miles of roads and more than 100 junctions.
Controversial large-scale projects such as the Lower Thames Crossing and the Stonehenge Tunnel on the A303 will receive some of the funding, as will the A66 Transpennine upgrade.
Sunak also committed to funding the Manchester to Leeds leg of Northern Powerhouse Rail, as well as £20m to develop the Midlands Rail Hub.
Under the new settlement, the UK’s eight “metro mayors” will receive a combined £4.2bn over five years to develop transport networks akin to that of Transport for London.
That money comes in addition to the £1bn Transforming Cities Fund, which will fund upgrades in urban areas such as Poole, Stoke, and Plymouth.
The expected announcement of a £2.5bn fund for fixing the UK’s potholes also raised a wry cheer in the parliament chamber.
Measures to protect the UK against the flooding such as has been seen over the winter were also introduced, including a £5.2bn flood and coastal defence programme across England and Wales.
Further details of the building programme will be announced later in the spring when the government releases its new national infrastructure strategy.
The £100bn plan was expected to accompany the Budget, but was delayed last week.
Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “The government’s level of ambition is welcome, and we look forward to seeing how the National Infrastructure Strategy will build on this in addressing the UK’s long term needs.