The 2017 Autumn Budget: What It Means For Our Roads
On the 22nd November 2017, the Government released the 2017 Autumn budget document.
The Autumn Budget describes the distributional impact on households of tax, welfare and public service spending decisions announced since the previous year's statement. It has a huge impact on the UK's road network, as budgeting and planning for the roads are described in this document.
A big focus this year surrounding UK roads is the environment. Electric-powered vehicles are growing in popularity and being endorsed by many leaders. As well as this, cycling is being promoted and plans have been announced to limit the amount of petrol and diesel cars in the UK by banning new versions from 2040.
In short, a £400 million fund was established, with an overview of the many measures that are going to be taken to support zero-emission vehicles.
Other notable statements include the investment of an additional £45 million in 2017-18 to tackle around 900,000 potholes across England, and a £1.7 billion fund from the NPIF (National Productivity Investment Fund) to support intra-city transport, which will target projects that drive productivity by improving connectivity, reducing congestion and utilising new mobility services and technology.
The Government focused a lot on 'new generation vehicles' - essentially 'Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs)' and 'Ultra-low emission vehicles'. A quote from this section of the budget reads:
"To support the transition to zero emission vehicles, the government will regulate to support the wider roll-out of charging infrastructure; invest £200 million, to be matched by private investment into a new £400 million Charging Investment Infrastructure Fund; and commit to electrify 25% of cars in central government department fleets by 2022."
Philip Hammond, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer was the one to announce the Autumn budget last week.
During his announcement, he said: “Our future vehicles will be driverless, but they’ll be electric first. And that’s a change that needs to come as soon as possible”.
The budget underlines the Government's plan to see fully self-driving cars on the UK road network by 2021, going into further detail about how this will be reached. World-leading changes to the regulatory framework will be made, such as setting out how driverless cars can be tested without a human safety operator. The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) will also launch a new innovation prize to determine how future roadbuilding should adapt to support self-driving cars.
Overall, the 2017 Autumn budget focuses heavily on innovating the UK road network to become safer and more environmentally friendly. And although many are saying road repair hasn't been given the budgeting and support it needs, there is also a lot of excitement regarding bug changes to the transport network that have been underlined in the document.