Infrastructure and other measures
Long term plans for UK infrastructure
Prior to the Autumn Statement, the Government announced that it will provide funding for a specific set of infrastructure projects under what it calls the ‘National Infrastructure Plan 2014’. These include:
A total of £15 billion has been designated for road improvements, which the Government describes as ‘the biggest package of improvements undertaken in the modern age’. This includes: £2 billion for the A303 and A358 to the south west, including a tunnel at Stonehenge; £290 million for dualling the A1 north of Newcastle; £300 million for dualling sections of the A47 to Norfolk and £5.8 billion for local highways maintenance.
Bicester has been confirmed as the second ‘garden city’ with Government support for the construction of up to 13,000 homes. £100 million has been set aside to fund infrastructure and land for up to 15,000 new homes at Ebbsfleet and £150 million has been designated to regenerate London estates, amongst other measures.
£2.3 billion has been allocated as part of a major project to improve some 1,400 flood defence systems, including £196 million for the Thames Estuary, £80 million for the Humber Estuary and £15.5 million to be spent on defences in Somerset, an area which has suffered considerable flood damage in recent years.
Building a ‘Northern Powerhouse’
The Autumn Statement revealed that a further £7 billion will be invested to build a so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’. The Government intends to better connect the north of the country by investing £6 billion in the region’s roads to ease congestion, introducing new modern trains and 20% more capacity to end overcrowding, and developing HS3 to make east-west travel faster.
In addition, the Government will double the number of northern cities that will benefit from its superfast broadband programme, while major new science investments will also be delivered across the region.
Science and innovation
The Government has allocated £5.9 billion of science capital funding over the next Parliament. The funding will support a range of projects and institutions, including £95 million for the UK to take the operational lead in the next European mission to Mars. £235 million is also being allocated to a new science research centre called the Sir Henry Royce Institute in Manchester.
Loans for postgraduate masters
The Government will introduce income-contingent loans of up to £10,000 for under-30s to undertake a postgraduate taught Masters course in any subject. The loans are planned to be available from 2016/17.