In Depth

Conservative Party Conference: £25bn set aside for major road upgrades

Funds from taxpayer and borrowing will be used to improve 14 English routes

The Government has pledged to spend £25bn on upgrading Britain’s ageing road network in what the Conservative Party is hailing as an “infrastructure revolution”.

Chancellor Sajid Javid announced the measure at the party’s conference in Manchester this morning, along with a renewed promise to invest £220m in the UK’s bus services. This includes £50m to create the country’s first all-electric bus town, the BBC reports.

Funding for the road improvements had been set aside last year by Javid’s predecessor, Philip Hammond, with the Chancellor confirming that the money will be spent on improving 14 of England’s major roads, the broadcaster notes.

The proposed infrastructure upgrades will begin next year and run until 2025. Financing, meanwhile, will come from both the taxpayer and from borrowing. 

Speaking to Sky News ahead of the announcement, Javid said the move would be “the biggest increase in infrastructure investment by the government that this country has ever seen”.

How will the money be spent?

The £25bn fund will focus on upgrading 14 roads across England, with improvements ranging from starting new routes to the completion of existing work. 

For example, it will allow the dualling of a stretch of the A66 Trans-Pennine expressway, close to the Scottish border, and the A46 Newark bypass in Nottinghamshire to be finished, the Daily Express reports. 

Improvements will also be made to the M60 Simister Island interchange in Manchester, while construction work will commence on the A428 in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, the newspaper adds. 

The BBC notes that the A12 in east England will be widened under the new proposals, too, and that more improvements will be announced at a later date.

Will taxes go up?

No, according to the Chancellor. 

When asked by Sky News if the investment push would fall on the taxpayer, Javid responded: “No, not at all. Our plans will be to bring taxes down.”

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell, however, told the broadcaster that Javid’s plans were “reannouncements and damp squibs”, and described them as “tinkering around the edges”.

Meanwhile, Richard Murray, head of independent think tank the King’s Fund, told the Financial Times that it’s “difficult to tell how generous the government is being, given a lack of clarity over how the schemes had been selected, and how the pledges fitted within the department’s overall financial settlement”.

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