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£2.5bn drive to repair 50 million potholes will be unveiled in budget

  • March 11, 2020

A £2.5bn drive to repair 50 million potholes over the next five years will be announced in Wednesday’s budget.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will try to make good on the government’s promise to “level up” the country by targeting the cash in the South West, East and North West of England.

He will also pledge hundreds of billions of pounds on improving road, rail and other infrastructure projects.

What should we expect in the budget?

What should we expect in the budget?

The measures will come in Mr Sunak’s first budget – less than a month since he became a cabinet minister after his predecessor Sajid Javid sensationally resigned.

He will lay out the government’s tax and spend plans for 2020, but planned policies may have to be put on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Analysis: Coronavirus leaves an an air of unreality hanging over the budget

Analysis: Coronavirus leaves an an air of unreality hanging over the budget

A staple of these events – tackling potholes – has been promised ahead of the speech.

The Treasury says action is needed to improve infrastructure and deal with a situation where 90% of insurance claims are related to pothole damage.

Injury-causing crashes involving potholes are three times more likely to impact a cyclist or biker, it is claimed.

“We can’t level up Britain and spread opportunity if we are spending our journeys dodging potholes and forking out for the damage they cause,” Mr Sunak said ahead of the speech.

“It’s vital we keep roads in good condition. That’s why we are going to eradicate the scourge of potholes in every part of the country.”

Rishi Sunak prepares for his first budget as chancellor
The chancellor is less than a month into the job

Labour has branded the move a gimmick, which it claims is simply a new take on an old policy.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “This rehash of Theresa May’s pothole fund is another policy announcement that shows the Tories trying to patch up problems they have created without getting a grip on the underlying state of infrastructure in this country.”

He accused the Tories of “repeating their mistake of the last 10 years” by launching a “gimmicky grab-bag of projects” instead of a national infrastructure strategy.

David Renard, a Conservative councillor and head of the Local Government Association, said he was “pleased” with the pothole funding boost but called for councils to get devolved infrastructure and public transport budgets.

A photo illustration of the new British ten pound note, featuring a portrait of Jane Austen, on September 27, 2017 in London, England. A polymer ..20 note featuring JMW Turner will enter circulation by 2020.  (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)
It is the new government’s first budget

Bigger infrastructure projects will also get a boost with the announcement that capital spending will increase from £500bn to £600bn in the next five years.

And the Treasury claims it’s going to triple average net investment seen over the last 40 years – taking it from £22.1bn to £66.2bn.

Sky News economics editor Ed Conway has said “a far better way of comparing these numbers over time is as a percentage of gross domestic product” – the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year.

He added: “£66.2bn would be about 3% (actually just under) of 2020’s GDP.

“How does that compare over time? Well actually it is still a considerably lower level of net investment than almost all of the 50s, 60s and 70s.”

No new announcements about the COVID-19 outbreak have been made ahead of the budget, but Sky News understands it has been reshaped to address the immediate economic impacts the emerging global pandemic will have on the economy.

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