Spending Round impact on transport and skills

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Road transport infrastructure spend and the Department for Transport’s capital resource have been given the biggest boost of any area in today’s Spending Round, but a squeeze on local authority budgets and a two-year freeze on council tax could impact on local road maintenance and repair.

Innovation was also a focus for Osborne who in delivering his departmental budgets for 2015-2016 said: “Britain was once the place where the future was invented. We can be that place again.”

While the DfT day-to-day spend is reduced by nine percent for the period, the capital budget is up £2 billion, to £9.5 billion.

“We will repeat that commitment for every year to 2020,” Osborne told the House of Commons today.

“We’re already massively expanding investment on major road schemes; but we will do more. So we’re announcing the largest programme of investment in our roads for half a century.”

Osborne said £50 billion would be spent on infrastructure in total in 2015, ‘from road to rail, bridges to broadband, science to schools’.

He said £300 billion of capital spend was committed to the end of the decade, while Chief Security to the Treasury Danny Alexander will detail £100 billion worth of infrastructure plans on Thursday 27 June.

Describing Communities Secretary Eric Pickles as ‘a model of lean government’, however, Osborne also detailed a further 10% in his budget which will reduce money provided to local authorities.

Along with the announcement of a council tax freeze for the next two years, authorities will have less money for the provision of their services and local road maintenance and repair could be further hit.

“It’s not enough to have roads, power stations and flood defences,” said Osborne.

“These are just the physical infrastructure you need to compete in the 21st century.

“We need the intellectual capital too. This country needs to invent, pioneer and export around the world.”

With a 6% reduction in day-to-day running costs for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Osborne said capital investment could be increased by 9% and, amongst other areas, support apprenticeships.

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