The AJ’s guide to the key points for architects in today’s Budget statement
In what George Osborne heralded as a budget for the ‘next generation’, the chancellor announced further devolution to the UK’s regions, changes to schools, and a raft of infrastructure projects.
However, little was said about housebuilding or planning despite the ongoing housing crisis.
The budget forecasts, which revised down economic growth, also warned that leaving the European Union could lead to ‘disruptive uncertainty’.
Prime minister David Cameron said the Budget was ‘pro-enterprise, pro-infrastructure, pro-devolution’.
Below the AJ picks out the key points of Osborne’s Budget.
Osborne announced that the government would continue to devolve new powers to the UK’s nations.
He revealed a £1 billion deal for the Cardiff region and added that the government was in discussions about a city deal for Swansea and a growth deal for North Wales.
Osborne also confirmed that elected mayors have been agreed for Manchester, Liverpool, Tees Valley, Newcastle, Sheffield, and the West Midlands.
In a move which he said would allow devolution to ‘evolve and grow stronger’, Osborne said that elected mayors would also be established in English counties, southern cities and the West of England.
In further plans to increase devolution, 100 per cent of local government resources will come from local government, meaning funding will be both raised and invested locally.
In London, the Greater London Authority will retain all of its business rates, while a Thames Estuary Growth Commission will be led by Michael Heseltine and is set to report back with its ideas next year.
The chancellor confirmed that all schools in England would be removed from local authority control. By 2020 every primary and secondary school in England will either be an academy or on the way to converting to an academy.
Commenting on the plans, which had been leaked ahead of the Budget announcement, Cameron said: ‘Academy schools are true devolution. Making sure every headteacher is in charge of their schools. Primary sponsored academies have better records and are improving faster.’
Osborne gave the green light for High Speed 3 – a new rail line that will run between Manchester and Leeds.
There were also further announcements about improvements to infrastructure in the north including a new tunnelled road between Manchester and Sheffield, and increasing the M62 to four lanes.
The move, he said, would: ‘make the northern powerhouse a reality and rebalance the country’.
A £700 million boost to flood defences funded by increased insurance premiums was also announced.
Osborne also gave the go-ahead to flood defence schemes in York, Leeds, Calder Valley, Carlisle and across Cumbria.
The chancellor announced that funding would be given to specific cultural projects across the UK including a hall for Cornwall in Truro and a Skespeare North theatre on the site of the first indoor theatre outside London.
He also pledged £13 million to Hull to ‘make a success as the City of Culture’.
Osborne also unveiled plans to introduce a tax break for museums that develop exhibitions to go on tour across the UK.
New stamp duty rates are due to come into effect next month and the receipts from these will be used to set up community housing trusts.
In a boost for small firms, the threshold for business rate relief is set to rise from £6,000 to £15,000. Osborne claimed this would mean 600,000 businesses will now pay no rates and 250,000 will have their rates cuts from April 2017.