Lord Adonis today welcomed the measures announced in the Chancellor’s Budget Statement as a “clear commitment” to investing in the country’s infrastructure network.

The chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission said they were a “positive step” ahead of publication of the country’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment.

In particular, he welcomed the Chancellor’s plans to support future growth in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Growth Arc, building on the Commission’s recommendations to help deliver one million homes and jobs in the area by 2050.

The Budget also included plans for the National Infrastructure Commission to conduct a study into the future of freight transport, and to launch an innovation prize for ideas about how to prepare the country’s roads for driverless cars.

Lord Adonis also welcomed the investment announced today in measures to increase housebuilding, improve the country’s transport infrastructure and to help ensure the UK is at the forefront of digital and artificial intelligence technology.

But he highlighted the need for a clear investment strategy to help directly-elected mayors and local authorities to plan infrastructure projects for the long-term.

Responding to the Budget Lord Adonis said:

“Today’s Budget offers a clear commitment to investing in the nation’s infrastructure, from improving our transport system and preparing for electric and driverless cars, to delivering new homes and helping ensure we have access to the latest digital technology.

“But for us to get the most bang for our buck, we need a clear long-term investment strategy that can help our local leaders plan and deliver the homes and infrastructure their communities want and need, and to be ready for the latest technological advances.

“The National Infrastructure Commission will be at the heart of achieving this, both as we look to deliver the country’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment and as we examine issues such as preparing our roads for driverless cars, and the future of our freight infrastructure.

“I’m therefore also pleased that the Chancellor plans to accept our recommendations for supporting the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc, which could deliver one million homes and jobs by 2050 in one of the most economically-important parts of the country.

“Today’s measures are therefore a positive step – but they should be the start of a longer-term concerted effort to enhance our infrastructure network, which can help boost economic growth and support communities across the country.”

Realising an ambitious vision for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc

Addressing MPs, Philip Hammond confirmed that the Government will work with leaders in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Growth Arc to reach a new deal to deliver homes and infrastructure – in line with recommendations in the Commission’s report.

In particular, the Chancellor backed the Commission’s ambition for one million new homes across the Arc by 2050, starting with a new housing deal in Oxfordshire which commits the county to delivering 100,000 new homes by 2031. New towns and the role of development corporations will be considered as part of delivering new homes across the Growth Arc.

Mr Hammond announced funding to accelerate the delivery of East-West Rail, helping to deliver the connection between Oxford to Bedford, and from Aylesbury to Milton Keynes by 2024.  A newly-formed company will also be charged with exploring how to accelerate the delivery of the connection between Bedford and Cambridge, with the aim of opening the link in the mid-2020s, while programmes of work will start on developing plans for new Cambridge South and Cowley train stations.

The Budget also included a commitment to deliver the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway by 2030, with key elements to benefit from the next round of Road Investment Strategy funding.  In addition, Cambridge will be a “tech nation hub” to be established as part of an expansion of the existing scheme.

Supporting new and existing infrastructure

The Chancellor announced that the Commission will be running a “Roads for the Future” competition, seeking ideas for how to redesign and rethink the country’s road network to accommodate connected and autonomous vehicles.

And he outlined plans for the National Infrastructure Commission to conduct a study into the future of freight transport, including potential new ways of transporting freight around the country, and examining how carbon emissions from the industry can be reduced.

Building on the recommendations in the Commission’s ‘Connected Future’ report on 5G telecommunications, he also announced £35million towards trials of line-side mobile connectivity, to improve signals for train passengers.

Other infrastructure announcements in the Budget included:

  • The extension of the National Productivity Investment Fund to another year, expanded to more than £31billion;
  • Additional funding towards housing schemes to increase building to 300,000 homes a year;
  • A £1.7billion Transforming Cities Fund for improving transport links within cities;
  • Investment of £500 million in a range of technological initiatives ranging from artificial intelligence, to 5G and full fibre broadband;
  • £400million investment in a network of electric car charging points – a combination of public and private investment;
  • £100million to boost the purchasing of clean cars;
  • £76million additional funding for flood and coastal defence schemes over the next three years; and
  • Plans for a call for evidence in the New Year to examine how the tax systems and charges can help reduce the waste of single use plastics