Transport and local government budgets
- For 2014-15, the majority of Whitehall departmental budgets will be cut by 1.1%.
- Local government is excluded from this reduction, to help local authorities to freeze council tax in 2014-15 and 2015-16. As such CLG Local Government will see no reduction in its departmental resource budget for the next two years.
- DfT will see a £41m cut in its resource budget for 2014-15 and £36m in 2015-16.
- The Government is looking at giving local public services the same long-term indicative budgets as departments from the next Spending Review.
- The government is inviting proposals for sales and better use of local authority assets as part of growth deals. As an incentive, the government will allow local authorities the flexibility to spend £200 million of receipts from new asset sales on the one-off costs of reforming services.
- An additional £90 million over 3 years to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings.
- £5 million during 2014-15 for a large scale electric vehicle-readiness programme for public sector fleets. The programme aims to promote the adoption of ultra low emission vehicles, demonstrating clear leadership by the public sector to encourage future wide-spread acceptance.
- For more on the implications for local government, see the Local Government Association response to the Autumn Statement and the Guardian Local Leaders Network summary.
- A new webpage on http://www.gov.uk, providing a single source of information on schemes designed to help manage the cost of transport to individuals and households.
- A cap on the average increase in regulated rail fares for 2014 in line with RPI. Confirmation that the permitted ‘flex’ above the overall cap on average rail fares will be reduced to 2%. Read Campaign for Better Transport’s reaction.
- Confirmation of a trial of flexible rail season ticketing in the South East to benefit those who work flexibly or part-time.
- Freeze fuel duty for the remainder of this Parliament.
- To incentivise a shift to cleaner, cheaper fuel, commits to maintain the differential between the main rate of fuel duty and the rate for road fuel gases such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for 10 years. This aims to provide businesses with the certainty they need to invest in alternatively fuelled commercial vehicles.
- Measures to encourage the development of driverless cars in the UK, including a review reporting by end 2014 and a prize fund of £10 million for a town or city to develop as a test site for consumer testing of driverless cars.
- A guarantee for £8.8 million to help fund the installation of energy saving lighting equipment across a portfolio of NCP car parks.
- The Government’s plans for National infrastructure are detailed in the National Infrastructure Plan 2013 (NIP 2013) published on the 4th December.
- On the same day, the Government also published ‘The UK insurance growth action plan’ including a commitment by UK insurers to work with partners to deliver at least £25 billion of investment in UK infrastructure over the next 5 years, including but not restricted to projects in the published infrastructure pipeline.
- Alongside NIP 2013 the government published the National Networks National Policy Statement for consultation and parliamentary scrutiny.
- Launch of an overarching review of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning Regime focusing on shortening the lengthy pre-application phase and further streamlining of the consenting process.
- Creation of a £1 billion, 6-year programme to fund infrastructure to unlock new large housing sites (Manchester and Leeds were mentioned specifically). £50 million of this will be earmarked for Local Enterprise Partnership supported bids.
- Maintenance of the Local Growth Fund at £2 billion in 2015-16 (including through making £110 million of Regional Growth Fund available for the Local Growth Fund). The Local Growth Fund will be at least £2 billion every year of the next Parliament.
- The government will take steps to address delays at every stage of the planning process, incentivise improved performance and reduce costs for developers, including consulting on measures to improve plan making, including introducing a statutory requirement to put a Local Plan in place.
We thought we would share with you our summary of the key 2012 Autumn Statement announcements of relevance to transport and the PTEs.
Transport announcements – a focus on roads
£1.5 billion will be spent on improving the road network, of which £1bn will be invested in the current spending review period.
General transport spending:
- £270m for ‘priority national and local projects to remove bottlenecks and support development’ (no further details available)
- £42 million for the Sustainable Transport Fund for cycling infrastructure, including cycling safety.
- £333m for road maintenance and £42m to develop the pipeline of potential Highways Agency road schemes
Projects in the North and West Midlands:
- £378m to upgrade key sections of the A1 (Lobley Hill and Leeming to Barton) in the North East, bringing this route from the M25 to Newcastle up to motorway standard
- £10m (from within DfT’s existing budget) for improvements to Junction 12 of the M40 in the West Midlands (starting 2013)
- Guarantee to support £1bn of borrowing at a preferential rate to extend the Northern Line to Battersea, to enable the commercial redevelopment of Battersea Power Station and surrounding site.NOTE: This is one of the first projects to benefit from the £40bn UK Guarantees scheme which provides guarantees to ensure that priority projects in the infrastructure pipeline can raise the finance they need. The scheme is open until 31 December 2014.
- £150m to tackle congestion via improvements to Junction 30 of M25 in London and £157m for a new link between A5 and M1 in East and dualling a section of the A30 in the South West
Other transport announcements:
- A limit on the average increase in regulated rail fares and Transport for London fares to the RPI plus 1 per cent for two years from Jan 2013.
- Fuel duty rise planned for Jan 2013 cancelled and deferred to 1 Sept 2013.
- Strengthen the mandate of Infrastructure UK and increase its commercial expertise to boost the delivery of growth-enhancing infrastructure projects. As part of this, IUK plus an enhanced Major Projects Authority will undertake a detailed assessment of Whitehall’s ability to deliver infrastructure – to be completed by Budget 2013.
- New pilot delivery model for reducing the time taken to plan and deliver new roads.
- Assessing feasibility of new ownership and financing models for the strategic road network – progress report due in new year.
Governance announcements – a focus on LEPs
The Statement highlights the success of the first round of City Deals with a special mention for Manchester’s earn back agreement with Government to unlock over £2bn of investment in transport infrastructure.
The Government welcomes Lord Heseltine’s Review and is seeking to implement as many of the recommendations as possible. A full response is due in Spring, however, the Statement sets out the first stage of the response, including the following announcements:
- LEPs will be asked by Government to lead the development of new multi-year strategic plans for local growth consistent with national priorities. They will be expected to consult with all relevant local partners. It is anticipated that the plans will provide LEPs with an increasingly important strategic role.
- To help LEPs fulfil this role, the Government will provide £10m per year for capacity building within LEPs. Each will be able to apply for up to £250,000 additional funding per year to support the development and delivery of their strategic plan.
- The Government will devolve a greater proportion of growth-related spending on the basis of these strategic plans by creating a single funding pot for local areas from April 2015. Funding will reflect the quality of the LEP’s strategic plans, as well as local need. LEPs will also be expected to leverage funding, including from local authorities and the wider public and private sector. The Government will seek to increase the proportion of spending awarded through the single pot. This is likely to include some of the funding for local transport. Further details to be set out in the Spending Review.
In addition to Lord Heseltine’s recommendations:
- A new concessionary public works loan rate to an infrastructure project nominated by each LEP (excluding London), with total borrowing capped at £1.5bn.
- A further £350m towards the Regional Growth Fund.
- Support for local authorities that wish to create a combined authority or implement other forms of collaboration (e.g. shared management) including ensuring existing legislation is fit for purpose.
- Detailed spending plans for 2015-16 will be set out in the first half of next year.
- Simplification of the Carbon Reduction Commitment energy efficiency scheme from 2013, including abolition of the performance league table. Full review to be held in 2016 the tax will be a high priority for removal when public finances allow.
Policy and Research Advisor