The Chancellor to announce more than £20billion in funding for transport links outside London, health research and a ‘skills revolution’ next week.
Rishi Sunak says he wants to build a stronger economy with his Budget as the nation’s businesses recover from the fallout of Covid-19.
It will be the second time this year he has stood in front of MPs and updated them on the state of the nation’s finances, as last year’s budget was delayed until March due to coronavirus.
Some 11 areas of investment were announced by the Treasury over the weekend, so there may not be many surprises next week.
While he’s made a number of spending pledges, Sunak is also expected to impress on MPs the importance of keeping public finances in a healthy state.
Speaking to Times Radio this morning, the Chancellor said that over the past year his main focus was ‘protecting people’s livelihoods, their incomes, their jobs’ amid the pandemic.
But he added it was now time to shore up the economy to weather any future storms.
He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘That means strong investment in public services, driving economic growth by investing in infrastructure, innovation and skills, giving businesses confidence, and then supporting working families.
‘Those are the ingredients of what makes a stronger Budget and that’s what we will deliver next week.’
But the Chancellor faces a number of challenges, not least a warning from the Bank of England’s new chief economist that inflation could rise above 5%.
Sunak told Marr that countries all over the world are facing this issue, due to energy prices and economies opening up rapidly as Covid restrictions are eased.
He added: ‘Both of those factors are global factors. We’re not alone in experiencing those problems, I don’t have a magic wand that can make either of those things disappear.’
Public sector workers will also learn if they are getting a payrise, Sunak confirmed this morning, after pay was paused in 2021/22 with the exception of NHS workers on less than £24,000.
The Chancellor has already announced a £6.9billion package to ‘level up’ transport links outside of London.
Sunak is set to put £5.7billion into station upgrades and sustainable transport settlements for city regions outside the capital to boost productivity.
The money will also go towards the expansion of tram networks in a number of cities, as metro mayors are handed the money over a five year period.
The Chancellor will also announce £1.2billion of new funding to improve the nation’s bus services, as part of the £3 billion committed by Boris Johnson.
Sunak is set to announce a £3billion investment in both post-16 education and training of adults in later life.
The Chancellor hopes the package will give people ‘the skills they need to earn more and get on in life’.
The number of skills boot camps under the Government’s Plan for Jobs is also set to be quadrupled in areas such as the nuclear industry, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
Some 24,000 traineeships will be created, while £1.6billion will go towards more lesson time for 100,000 students aged 16 to 19 taking their T-levels – technical qualifications introduced in September last year.
Existing colleges in England are to be allocated £830million with extra funding for new equipment and facilities.
The National Skills Fund will be boosted with a total investment of £550million to quadruple the number of places on the skills boot camps, which are available for adults of any age.
Sunak will also announce the expansion of free Level 3 courses for adults, which are equivalent to A-levels, in subjects like maths, chemistry and biology.
Apprenticeship funding will also increase by £170million to £2.7billion in 2024/25 under the new package.
A care package of £500million has also been set aside to boost the development of children in early years education.
The Early Years Alliance said critical support is needed for nurseries, childminders and pre-schools, where there have been thousands of recent closures.
The care package includes around £80million to create another 75 family hubs across England. They are support centres for families to access services in one place.
A further £100million will go towards supporting the mental health of expectant parents, while £120million will be invested in other comprehensive family support programmes.
Some 300,000 of the most vulnerable in society will be supported with an extra £200million to support people through complex issues that could lead to family breakdown.
But Labour said the package barely undoes the damage caused by the Conservatives’ near-decade of austerity, while critics noted a number of services which won’t get funding.
Next week’s budget will also include £700million to improve sports and youth clubs and £560million to provide personalised maths coaching.
The Department of Health and Social Care will be handed £5billion over three years to invest in, among other areas, genomics sequencing and health inequalities.
The Chancellor said the pandemic had shown ‘how important innovative research and development is in delivering new, life-saving treatments’.
The Office for Life Sciences will receive £95million to deliver on promises over cancer, obesity and mental health.
A UK-wide trial of antiviral treatments for Covid-19 will be given £33million, while £40million will be spent on social care reform.
The Budget will also include a £30million investment in research and skills training and £20million on research into climate change and health.
Sunak is also set to promise £5million for Armed Forces charities to go towards cutting-edge treatments for veterans.
Ageing Border Force vessels will be replaced by new cutters as part of a £700million investment to boost security at Britain’s borders, the Treasury have confirmed.
The current fleet, which is 20 years old, will be retired and 11 new vessels will come into service to help tackle organised crime and illegal migration at a cost of £74million.
Sunak’s budget also includes £628million ‘to modernise and digitalise the border’, with proposals including a US-style Electronic Travel Authorisation for tourists wishing to come to the UK.
Electronic authorisations will launch in 2023 and be fully in place two years later and, like the American system, will allow authorities to decide if people should be allowed to travel to the UK prior to their arrival.
The Spending Review will also include just over £1billion to be spent over the next three years on ‘new UK sovereign functions’ following Brexit.
This will include money for more than 1,000 Border Force officers to deliver customs and transit checks, the Treasury added.
A £435million package of measures aimed at preventing crime will form part of next week’s Budget – with a focus on violent offences against women.
The Chancellor is expected to pledge millions for better CCTV and improved street lighting and give £80million in additional funding to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The Treasury said part of this funding will ‘improve the response to rape and sexual assault cases’.
The statement follows widespread shock at the murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens and forces dealing with hundreds of spikings pubs and nightclubs.
Funding for victims is also expected to be increased, with the Treasury saying it will be £185million, an increase of 85% from 2019-20
A £1.4billion Global Britain Investment Fund will hand out grants to encourage internationally mobile companies to invest in the UK’s critical industries, including life sciences and automotive.
The Treasury said companies with ‘strategically important investment proposals’ would be able to get grants towards their schemes through the fund.
A new talent network will also be set up in innovation hotspots, first in the Bay Area of San Francisco and Boston in the US in 2022, and also Bengaluru in India.
Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said to recover from the pandemic businesses need to get investing.
She said: ‘This scheme hits the spot when it comes to some of our most innovative industries in the UK.
‘Businesses will be hopeful that there will be more to come from the Chancellor next week to help get firms investing.’
The Treasury is also set to provide a £850million boost to ‘breathe life’ back into cultural hotspots under a three-year investment.
It will be used to upgrade popular galleries and museums, including Tate Liveprool, the V&A and the Imperial War Museum in Duxford.
York’s National Railway Museum and the British Library’s Boston Spa site are also expected to benefit from the package.
A total of £125million will go towards the building of a new state of the art scientific research centre in Oxfordshire.
Part of the Natural History Museum – the centre is set to open in 2026 and will house 27million specimens – over a a third of the museum’s collection.
They will be accessible to researchers around the world digitally, which the Government hopes will strengthen the UK’s position in tackling emerging diseases, climate change and threats to biodiversity.
Meanwhile over £75million will go towards improving 110 regional museums and libraries.
A total of 67 highstreets are set to benefit from a programme to revive town centres across England by giving old buildings new life as homes, shops, workplaces and community centres.
The Chancellor said: ‘From science museums to art galleries to our most cherished historical sites, I am proud to be part of a country with such a strong cultural heritage.
‘That is why we’re investing hundreds of millions – so it’s not just today people can enjoy their favourite spots, but for generations to come.’
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