Today (11 March) marks the arrival of Budget 2020, as Chancellor Rishi Sunak vows to take further steps to decarbonise the economy and get Britain building

The Budget 2020 reveals a host of investments in the roads, railways and digital networks that will underpin growth over the coming decade.

Sunak committed to providing £200m for local communities to build flood resilience and would double investment in flood defences over the next six years to £5.2bn.

He also revealed steps would be taken to decarbonise the economy and protect the UK’s natural habitats.

Get Britain building

By the end of the parliament, public sector net investment will be triple the average over the last 40 years in real terms. In total, around £640bn of gross capital investment will be provided for roads, railways, communications, schools, hospitals and power networks across the UK by 2024-25.

The government revealed it will publish a National Infrastructure Strategy later in the spring, and the CSR will provide full departmental spending plans.

Budget 2020 building commitments include:

  • The largest-ever investment in English strategic roads, with over £27bn between 2020 and 2025.
  • Funding for the Shared Rural Network agreement to radically improve mobile coverage in rural areas, and a record £5bn investment in gigabit broadband rollout in the hardest-to-reach areas.
  • £5.2bn for flood defences between 2021 and 2027, offering better protection from flooding for 336,000 homes and non-residential properties.
  • An additional £200m funding to help communities most at risk of flooding recover faster.
  • A £10.9bn increase in housing investment to support the commitment to build at least 1m new homes by the end of the Parliament.
  • £1.5bn investment over five years in capital spending to refurbish further education colleges.
  • £12.2bn for the Affordable Homes Programme and £400m for ambitious Mayoral Combined Authorities and local areas to establish housing on brownfield land across the country.
  • The Budget 2020 also confirms allocations from the Housing Infrastructure Fund totalling £1.1bn for nine different areas including Manchester, South Sunderland and South Lancaster.
  • Having taken expert advice, the Budget confirms an additional £1bn to remove unsafe cladding from residential buildings above 18 meters to ensure people feel safe in their homes.

The government is also taking action to review the Green Book, which sets out how decisions on major investment programmes are appraised in order to make sure that government investment spreads opportunity across the UK.

Industry response

Debbie Dore, chief executive at APM, said: “This Budget and the forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy seeks to turbo-charge and ‘level-up’ the economy, particularly through infrastructure investment and strengthening regional economic activity.

“While we understand the reasons for delaying the release of the National Infrastructure Strategy, we urge the government not to lose sight of the value of projects in driving economic growth.

“We urge the government to use the extra time it now has before the release of the National Infrastructure Strategy to reflect on its proposals for skills development.”

Dave Sheridan, executive chairman at ilke Homes, said: “Affordable housing provision cannot be funded by private sector contributions alone and the Chancellor’s multi-billion pound boost for the Affordable Homes Programme is a timely, positive intervention that will benefit the whole market.

“However we cannot continue to rely on traditional methods of delivery if we are to build the quality homes that Britain deserves at speed and scale and the government needs to work with the industry to encourage uptake of modern methods of construction.

“Affordable housing providers such as housing associations and local authorities are uniquely placed to benefit from offsite manufacturing. Reduced build time means they can deliver much needed affordable homes at pace while superior build quality delivers energy efficient homes and reduces maintenance costs.

“In turn, a properly funded affordable housing sector can help the off-site manufacturing industry grow by providing a steady pipeline of work that can support demand even during a downturn when private sector activity is reduced.”

David Westgate, group chief executive at Andrews Property Group, said: “The announcement of a £1bn Building Safety Fund will be welcomed by leaseholders living in high rise blocks around the UK.

“The key issue, as ever, is how quickly the funds can be called upon and if there are any specific criteria that must be met for developments to be eligible.

“The funds have officially been made available but the logistics have yet to emerge. In the meantime many people’s lives have been put on hold as they cannot secure mortgage finance and they cannot sell their homes.

“What’s also vital is that the new fund covers rendered insulation as well as combustible cladding.

“In our experience, the cladding issues we are seeing around the UK could soon be surpassed by the problem of rendered insulation.

“If we are to genuinely make every apartment and housing block in this country safe then the newly announced fund needs to cover all materials that are deemed to be unsafe, not just cladding.”

A greener economy

According to Sunak, the UK has already cut carbon emissions by more than any other G7 country and in 2019 was the first major economy to legislate for a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

As the UK prepares to host this year’s COP26 UN climate summit, the Budget announces a range of policies to reduce emissions.

Budget 2020 climate commitments include:

  • A Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Infrastructure Fund to establish CCS in at least two UK sites, one by the mid-2020s, a second by 2030
  • To encourage more environmentally-friendly ways of heating homes and other buildings, the government will also introduce a Green Gas Levy to help fund the use of greener fuels
  • To support drivers to move away from polluting vehicles, the Budget announces investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, which will ensure that drivers are never more than 30 miles from a rapid charging station, provides £532m for consumer incentives for ultra-low emission vehicles, and reduces taxes on zero-emission vehicles.
  • The government will promote air quality improvement by removing the entitlement to use red diesel except for agriculture, fish farming, rail and non-commercial heating.
  • The government will tackle air pollution by providing £304m to help local authorities reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions and improve air quality.
  • The Budget commits to at least doubling the size of the Energy Innovation Programme.
  • Accelerate the greening of the gas grid by announcing a new support scheme for biomethane, funded by a Green Gas Levy.
  • Supporting the installation of heat pumps and biomass boilers by introducing a Low Carbon Heat Support Scheme.


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