Chancellor Sajid Javid has unveiled more than £600m of new infrastructure spending, as he commits to an ‘infrastructure revolution’ over the next 12 months
The infrastructure revolution funding, which will come from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), will go towards the construction of roads, rail links, schools and other infrastructure schemes.
During his Spending Round 2019 speech, Sajid Javid said: “The first priority of our new economic plan will be to rebuild our national infrastructure.
“High quality and reliable infrastructure is essential to how we live, we work and travel.
“But the truth is that across many decades governments of all colours have under-invested in infrastructure.
“The quality of our infrastructure means we’ve fallen behind our competitors.”
He added: “It isn’t good enough that so many commuters spend their mornings staring at a delayed sign at their train platform.
“It isn’t good enough that our small business owners waste so much time because of slow internet speeds and poor mobile communications.
“We’re going to change that.”
Discussing the motor highway, Javid said he would settle for “nothing less than an infrastructure revolution”.
Javid stated: “We’ll use the government’s resources to kickstart the infrastructure revolution.
“But we’ll also do more to give private investors the confidence to back these projects, too.
“We want all this to be underpinned by strong and independent institutions.
“We set up the National Infrastructure Commission in 2015, and we’ll continue to rely on its expert advice…
“So our infrastructure revolution will be strategic and carefully planned.”
The Chancellor of the Exchequer also revealed that further plans for decarbonisation would be set out as part of the infrastructure strategy later in the year.
Additionally, Javid announced that councils would have access to £1.5bn of new funding for social care next year, alongside the “largest increase in Local Government spending power since 2010”.
Responding to the one-year spending review, Hannah Vickers, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy & Engineering, said: “ACE welcomes the announcement today [4 September] by the Chancellor that he is committed to an infrastructure revolution that will see greater investments made to our existing and much needed new infrastructure networks.
“We also welcome his announcement that the government will accept the new Public Value Framework which will see spending decisions based on outcomes, not just costs which we have campaigned for. As an industry, we’re ready and relish this shift towards a more productive relationship – preparing our value-based business models to launch in the Autumn.
“We do, however, note that the real details of the type of investment will be made later in the year in the National Infrastructure Strategy and so we will reserve our judgment till then.
“With all the political uncertainty that exists in Westminster, it is important that all parties understand that long-term infrastructure investment decision must be made in the national interest and not just for short term political gain.”
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “Additional funding for local authorities is much needed and welcome. However, today’s Spending Review offers little to support new housing delivery or overstretched planning departments.
“Local authorities have a unique and vital role in alleviating the housing crisis and rejuvenating the UK’s struggling town centres, working in partnership with the property industry. However, despite the ambitions of many local authorities, they simply do not have the resources to focus on the strategic issues that will shape and secure their communities’ long-term future.
“Additional funding must be allocated to planning departments, which have seen the most severe cuts of any local authority service, with per-person spend on planning falling by 55% between 2010/11 and 2017/18.
“While today’s announcement may ease some of the funding challenges facing local authorities, we cannot ignore the need for a more comprehensive change in the way that local government is valued and resourced.”
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has said it is crucial that housebuilding and a new retrofit strategy form a part of the ‘infrastructure revolution’.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, commented: “The housing crisis is undermining the British economy. If we are to increase productivity and improve our competitive edge on the world stage, then building more new homes must form part of the Government’s campaign to upgrade our infrastructure.
“I welcome the announcement for £241m to be spent on the regeneration of high streets, town centres and local economies via the Towns Fund, and additional support for Homes England, however this must be part of an overarching strategy for new build homes and social housing, which will be key to securing a prosperous post-Brexit Britain.
“What’s more, we need a retrofit strategy to ensure that our existing homes are fit for the future, and to alleviate the scourge of fuel poverty.”