England road network set for £28bn upgrade

5th Nov 2018

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the new budget plans for a major investment in England’s roads, with further cash allocated for future upgrades.

The five-year fund will be spent on improving and maintaining the big national and local roads in the UK. An additional £420m will be given to councils to fix potholes and make repairs to bridges and tunnels.

The upgrades will be partly funded by Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), ring-fenced so that all monies will go directly into road improvement, as announced in 2015 by former Chancellor George Osborne.

Managing Director of policy at the Road Haulage Association, said: “UK roads have been seriously short of money and investment for 20 years now. There’s little spending on the strategic road network, so any money that goes into repairs and upgrades is welcome,” he said.

The Freight Transport Association say that the £420m allocated to pot-hole repairs can only be considered a short-term solution given how widespread the problem has become.

Christopher Snelling, head of UK policy at the FTA, said: “The £420m announced in today’s Budget to repair potholes is a drop in the ocean when you consider that work that will cost more than £8bn is needed to rectify years of under investment in our road network. The damage caused by potholes to the UK’s logistics fleet is adding unnecessary cost to the operation of vehicles tasked with keeping Britain trading, and FTA is concerned that the funding released by the Chancellor today will mean that operators will continue to incur these unreasonable costs at a time of extreme trading pressure. More could and should have been done to help the logistics sector at such a critical time in the nation’s trading history. It is a lost opportunity.”

The government also announced that SMEs would only have to pay 5% when they take on new apprentices although no date has been set on when this would be introduced.

Mark Dawe, Chief Executive of AELP, an organisation campaigning to remove the employer contribution rule, said: ‘This is a major and positive shift which AELP has been pushing hard for since before the levy was introduced and it should enable providers to work with smaller businesses to start getting back to offering apprenticeships to young people and local communities,” he said.

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