Budget to bring £29bn boost for England’s roads network
The Chancellor is expected to announce the launch of a £28.8bn fund to upgrade England’s major roads in today’s Budget, including funds ring-fenced from Vehicle Excise Duty.
Said to be the ‘biggest ever’ cash injection for England’s largest roads, the funding would be used for major road upgrades between 2020 and 2025, and would largely come from vehicle tax, as announced in 2015 by former chancellor George Osborne and back in the headlines more recently with the news that councils could also get a share of the funding. It would mark the first time that vehicle tax has been used in this way.
The announcement is also expected to include an extra £420m for local councils to help sort the growing pothole epidemic, on top of an expected £300m.
The move has been greeted by the RAC. Chief engineer David Bizley said: “This is good news for the nation’s motorists. The Government made a commitment three years ago to ring-fencing all the money collected from vehicle tax from 2020/21 to maintain and improve our most important roads. It is good to see the Chancellor delivering on this promise and it is clearly a big step in the right direction.
“While the focus of this cash injection is strategic and 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 perhaps 10 years eliminate the backlog in preventative maintenance that has led to so many potholes appearing during periods of adverse weather. Local roads are vitally important as almost all journeys start and finish on them and they, in turn, provide links to and from motorways, dual carriageway and major A-roads – keeping the country and our economy moving.”
This year’s Budget also promises to be the most significant for the fleet industry in recent history, with key announcements expected to include the shape of company car Benefit-in-Kind taxation from April 2020 following introduction of the Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) for homologating vehicle emission and MPG data. Leading firms have also called for the cliff-edge in company car benefit-in-kind (BiK) tax rates before 2020/21 to be addressed in the Budget and for the Government to bring forward the 2% rate to 2019/20 to help drive ULEV uptake – these were also key points of Fleet World’s petition to help save the company car.
No changes to fuel duty are expected in the Budget following the announcement earlier this month that it will be frozen for the ninth year running. However, the FairFuelUK campaign has called for the Government to set up an Independent Fuel Pump Pricing Watchdog and to pledge that fuel duty will not go up after Brexit in the lifetime of this Parliament.
For further Budget news after the Chancellor’s speech today at 3:30pm, keep visiting the Fleet World website.