Budget 2015: Summary of key points for transport and city regions

The Chancellor, George Osborne MP, on budget day (picture: HM Government)

The Chancellor, George Osborne MP, on budget day (picture: HM Government)

Following the Chancellor’s Budget statement on 18th March 2015, we’ve put together an at a glance summary of the key points of relevance to transport and the city regions. 

Transport

Rail

  • Transport for the North will shortly publish an interim report, committing to build on the concept of HS3 to develop a network of high quality rail connections across the north (the TransNorth vision); bring the benefits of HS2 to the north sooner than planned; and work towards a single, smart and integrated ticketing system across the region.
  • The government will fund a High Speed Rail Investment Summit in Birmingham.
  • £34m of additional government funding, plus a further £16m from Transport for London to extend the Metropolitan Line to Watford Junction on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Details of the new franchise for the Great Western Route, which will introduce the new £3bn Intercity Express trains, more frequent services and faster journey times, will soon be set out.
  • Electrification of the Selby to Hull line, subject to an acceptable contribution from Hull Trains and a business case, to complete the full electrification of the ‘historic trade route between Liverpool and Hull’.

Bus

  • The government will continue to work with the Transport Systems Catapult and industry to develop talking bus technology solutions.
  • Full approval to the Bristol bus rapid transit scheme (North Fringe to Hengrove), allowing construction to begin in April 2015.

Roads

  • The Highways England Delivery Plan will be published before the end of this parliament, setting out more details on 2015-2020 investment.
  • The government will cancel the RPI inflation Fuel Duty increase of 0.54p per litre scheduled for 1 September 2015.
  • £100m for research and development into intelligent mobility, focusing on the development of driverless car technology and associated systems.
  • In 2019-20, company car tax rates for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles will increase more slowly than previously announced, and rates for other cars will increase by three percentage points.
  • Review of the speed with which HGV driving tests and medical assessments take place and consider options to accelerate both to help address the shortage of qualified HGV drivers. It will also work with firms on an industry-led solution to the shortage.

Other transport

  • The government welcomes talks to reinstate the ferry from Norway to Newcastle and will provide £300k to market the North East to help bring more visitors from Scandinavia.

Devolution

  • A new devolution deal with West Yorkshire Combined Authority with new powers over transport, skills and business support.
  • Greater Manchester and Cheshire East will be among the pilot areas enabled to retain 100% of any additional business rate growth beyond expected forecasts. The pilots will begin in April 2015 (subject to the formal approval of Greater Manchester Combined Authority).
  • Further devolution of powers to the Mayor of London, including over planning and skills.

Cities

Sharing economy

The government wants to ensure Britain is the global centre for the sharing economy, enabling individuals and businesses to make the most of their assets, resources, time and skills through a range of online platforms. To demonstrate the benefits, there will be two pilots in Leeds City Region and Greater Manchester in 2015-16, focusing on shared transport, shared public space, and health and social care:

  • The Leeds City Region pilot will demonstrate new approaches to local transport, underpinned by new smartphone apps to foster a fully integrated transport system based on mobility accounts – allowing seamless use of bus, train, car club, taxi and bike services. The city region will also explore options for replacing local council car fleets with car club membership and opening up more parking bays to car clubs, particularly around transport interchanges. The City Region and West Yorkshire Combined Authority will also build on the work of Kirklees Council to explore new approaches to public assets and services, making use of untapped local resources, ranging from unused spaces and equipment, through to residents’ skills. These will be made available through an online sharing platform.
  • The Greater Manchester pilot will focus on health and social care, developing community assets (including through volunteering and community hubs) and supporting service users to access these.

More widely, local authorities will be encouraged to use their business rates discretionary relief powers to support the sharing economy.

General cities announcements

  • £138m towards the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (subject to business case and co-funding) to ensure infrastructure is resilient and responsive to environmental and economic impacts. It will have hubs in London and further centres in Birmingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Southampton.
  • £40m for demonstrator programmes, business incubator space and a research hub to develop applications for Internet of Things technologies in Smart Cities and in healthcare and social care. There will be a competition to fund a Smart Cities demonstrator.
  • £14m over two years for an Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre in Sheffield to design, develop and implement physical activity interventions and products to improve wellbeing. The centre is due to open in 2016.
  • Support for a new Energy Systems Catapult in Birmingham along with £60m for a new Energy Research Accelerator proposed by six universities across the Midlands.
  • Extension of Enterprise Zones in Manchester and Mersey Waters, focusing respectively on logistics and health care, and on advanced manufacturing. The designation of Leeds Enterprise Zone will be changed to support energy and waste technology businesses.
  • £11m to support the development of innovative businesses through new ‘tech incubators’ in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

Other points of interest

  • As part of the digital ambition, HMT, DCLG and the Government Digital Service will be looking to collaborate with partners in local government to enable more customer-focussed, digitally-enabled and efficient local services.
  • £1m in 2015-16 to the Department of Health to incentivise the purchase of defibrillators for use in public places and to provide training in their use.

Rebecca Fuller

Policy and Research Manager, pteg Support Unit

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