Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced what’s described as the biggest ever cash injection for England’s major roads in the 2018 Budget.

The flagship £28.8 billion National Roads Fund upgrade plan will run from 2020-2025, and the major part of a £25.3 billion budget for Highways England, called Roads Investment Strategy 2.

This is a 40 percent increase on the previous five-year plan’s £17.6 billion (dubbed Roads Investment Strategy 1) – and it will be raised largely from ring-fencing Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). This was announced in the 2015 Budget by then chancellor George Osborne, following claims only 25p in every £1 raised from VED was being spent on roads.

The government also announced £3.5 billion of ‘new money’. This will be used by local councils to upgrade major local roads which fall outside the control of Highways England.

Another £150 million will be provided to improve problematic road junctions and congestion hotspots, benefitting all road users, not just motorists.

The UK’s pothole scourge was addressed in the 2018 Budget with an extra £420 million for road repairs. This is on top of a previous £300 million pothole fund (although the Asphalt Industry Alliance says to fix all England’s potholes would actually cost £8 billion…).

The Chancellor said the £420 million sum “will be available immediately, to local highway authorities, for fixing potholes, bridge repairs and other minor repairs”.

A big £680 million commitment to supporting sustainable transport in cities – that’s buses, trams and cycling routes. The Transforming Cities fund goes live in 2022.

As earlier announced by Prime Minister Theresa May, fuel duty has been frozen for the 9th successive year. “This will keep the cost of fuel down for millions of drivers across the UK,” said the Chancellor, “saving people around £800 million this year alone.”

The saving to the average car driver will be more than £1,000, and for the average van driver, £2,500.

2018 Budget for motorists: reaction

RAC

“This is good news for the nation’s motorists,” said RAC chief engineer David Bizley. “While the focus of this cash injection is on strategic major roads, it is also positive that other local roads will benefit to some extent. But what is also needed going forward is a similar long-term strategy and funding for the maintenance and improvement of all local roads so that we can, over 10 years, eliminate the backlog.”

Labour MP Emily Thornberry

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2018 Budget: cash for motorists

Source: MotoringResearch

October 29, 2018