Business drivers spend more on the road than just about anyone else, so they are perhaps best placed to consider how the spending review will affect motorists.
Chancellor George Osborne outlined the government’s spending for 2015/16 earlier this week. While there were plenty of budget cuts announced, Mr Osborne did confirm that there would be significant spending on roads.
Among all the details of the announcement the chancellor set aside £28 billion for road improvements, including £10 billion for essential maintenance. All the major projects in the Highways Agency pipeline for the Strategic Road Network are to be delivered.
“Successive governments of all colours have put short-term pressures over the long-term needs and refused to commit to capital spending plans that match the horizons of a modern economy. Today we change that: from roads to railways, bridges to broadband, science to schools,” said Mr Osborne in his address to the Commons.
For business drivers who have spent the last few years battling worsening traffic jams, this will be a welcome move. Indeed, the body representing car leasing firms greeted the news of great investment in the nation’s roads warmly.
The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association said it welcomes the chancellor’s message that capital investment in roads and other transport infrastructure needs to be a priority. However, it believes that Britain’s existing road network also needs greater attention.
“We welcome the chancellor’s clear message that capital investment in roads and other transport infrastructure needs to be a priority. Nine out of ten passenger miles are travelled on UK roads, as is the majority of freight movement,” commented the BVRLA’s chief executive, Gerry Keaney.
But he warned that even more needs to be done. “Britain urgently requires major investment in its roads and road maintenance and we would urge the government to look at a fairer distribution of the £47 billion raised in motoring taxes each year. Taxpaying road users deserve more for their money,” added Mr Keaney.
Certainly there is a need to up investment on the UK’s roads. Any business driver will point to the dire state of B roads in particular, pockmarked and cracking up with potholes, as a sign that more money must be spent on maintenance.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has called on the chancellor to do more on this front. Among a range of measures submitted to the government, it called for more focus on protecting existing assets and a more strategic approach to road maintenance.
But the FTA, like the BVRLA, was broadly supportive of the government’s commitment to protecting investment on major new capital projects.
James Hookham, the FTA’s managing director for policy and communications, said: “We welcome the government’s focus on infrastructure spending and the recognition of its value in order to stimulate growth in the wider economy. The government appears to have accepted the case for targeting roads investment.”
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