Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced a new £28.8bn fund to upgrade England’s motorways – along with an additional £420m to help local councils repair potholes.
The funding forms part of the Government’s annual budget, published today (29 Oct), and will see £25.3bn provided to Highways England for major road upgrades between 2020 and 2025.
This will be largely funded by vehicle excise duty, the first time road tax has been ring-fenced for use on the roads network.
An extra £3.5bn of ‘new money’ will be allocated to major local routes, which fall under the remit of local councils.
The £420m pothole fund is on top of the annual £1bn highways maintenance budget and the recently announced £300m pothole repairs fund.
The new funding has been welcomed by the RAC, but criticised by a number of environmental charities and Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald.
David Bizley, RAC chief engineer, said: “The Government made a commitment three years ago to ring-fencing all the money collected from vehicle tax from 2020/21 to maintain and improve our most important roads.
“It is good to see the chancellor delivering on this promise and it is clearly a big step in the right direction.
“While the focus of this cash injection is strategic and major roads it is also positive that other local roads will benefit to some extent. But what is also needed going forward is a similar long-term strategy and funding for the maintenance and improvement of all local roads.”
In contrast, Liz Hutchins, Friends of the Earth, said: “Earlier this month UN scientists warned that we only have a dozen years to prevent catastrophic climate change.
“Yet rather than investing in a low-carbon economy, the Chancellor is gearing up to create more pollution that wrecks our climate and damages our health by investing billions of pounds in roads.”
Andy McDonald, Labour shadow transport secretary, added: “With car dependency rising, public transport in decline and local roads in a state of disrepair, ramping up spending on major roads is the wrong decision.”
Elsewhere in the budget, a further £150m will be used to help councils improve local road junctions, allowing better access to workplaces, high streets and other community facilities.
The Transforming Cities Fund will also be extended by £680m to support local ‘sustainable’ transport – including new cycling routes.
The chancellor is also setting aside another £90m to trial next-generation methods of transport, with the creation of new ‘future mobility zones’ in three city regions.