Regions to share in five-year £600bn infrastructure spending boost

The Chancellor unveiled a huge £600bn spending boost over five years in infrastructure schemes in his one hour three minute Budget today, including the HS2 rail link for Manchester and Leeds.

He said the spending plans are the biggest since 1955.

Mr Sunak said: “We’re going to build broadband, railway, roads.”

He said this includes “unclogging Manchester’s arteries”.

Mr Sunak explained that, by building on the Transforming Cities Fund, the Government will provide £4.2bn from 2022-23 for five-year funding settlements for the eight Mayoral Combined Authorities, including Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, West Yorkshire, Sheffield City Region, and the West Midlands.

While it will be for elected mayors to put forward ambitious plans, the Government said it would welcome the opportunity to support a range of schemes, such as the renewal of the Sheffield Supertram, the development of a modern, low-carbon metro network for West Yorkshire and tram-train pilots in Greater Manchester.

As a first step, the Government will open discussions with Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and the West Midlands in the coming months.

A series of road improvement schemes have been announced.

The government said will spend over £27 billion between 2020 and 2025.

It will take forward schemes such as dualling the A66 Trans-Pennine route and improving the M60 Simister Island in Manchester to tackle delays

Investment in housing throughout the regions has also been boosted.

The Budget confirms allocations from the Housing Infrastructure Fund totalling £1.1bn for nine different areas, including Manchester, South Sunderland and South Lancaster.

These successful bids will unlock up to 69,620 homes and will help to stimulate housing and infrastructure growth across the country.

The Chancellor also pledged to move more than 22,000 civil servants out of London to the regions, including 750 to be based in a new Government economic campus in the North.

And, regarding job creation, he touched on plans to improve the environment and create ‘carbon capture clusters in areas including Merseyside, Teesside and Humberside which he said could create 6,000 jobs.

Other areas of investment affecting the regions are plans to invest £400m in research and development funding for universities around the country.

Sean Keyes, managing director at civil and structural engineering firm Sutcliffe which has offices in Liverpool, Manchester, North Wales and London, said: “From a social housing point of view, the more money being spent on social housing improves the quality of life for the population and will increase job prospects within the construction industry.

“Certainly for Liverpool City Region, this can only be positive news.

“Likewise, I welcome investment in infrastructure as this can only be a good thing for businesses, jobs and the construction industry as a whole – especially during these uncertain times.

“The UK needs this commitment to generate wealth, although it may take some time for it to trickle through the economy.

“For the city region, HS2 must remain a priority and equally we must also have improved links from West to East, connecting Liverpool to the likes of Hull and Newcastle.”

However, Jessica Bowles, director of strategy at Manchester-based property group Bruntwood, indicated that Mr Sunak’s Budget is a case of the ‘devil in the detail’: “The North and Midlands cannot be expected to thrive when operating on Victorian transport infrastructure.

“As well as transformational, like HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, we need to modernise existing routes, rolling stock and roads.

“We look forward to seeing the crucial details in the Government’s infrastructure plan soon.”

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