Yesterday’s Autumn Budget was – as is often the case – full of announcements but understanding which were new and which were previously announced funds was sometimes difficult.
From a mainstream media perspective, coverage has focused on the spending pledges to the NHS, tweaks to universal credit, and the ever popular cuts to alcohol duty. It has largely been received as a “spend now, pay later” Budget by most of Fleet Street.
However, there was still plenty of interest for EIC members.
Following the launch of EIC’s recent report, Brownfield First, we were delighted to see Government strongly backing brownfield development with £1.8 billion earmarked to bring 1,500 hectares into use, potentially unlocking 160,000 homes. This is a welcome move and a positive step for those working in contaminated land.
There was also more investment for R&D announced, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak sharing that £20 billion will be invested in public R&D by 2024-25. This is an increase of around a quarter in real terms over the spending review period.
Matthew Farrow, director of policy at EIC, said: “Members will no doubt be pleased to see the strong commitment by Government for both brownfield development and R&D. We’re delighted that the Government understands their strategic importance to boosting growth and recovery post-pandemic and our members will be looking forward to helping to realise the Government’s vision for these sectors.”
However, on Net Zero it was a more mixed affair, made all the more disappointing given that COP26 is just days away, with a real missed opportunity to announce the full electrification of the rail network. We hope to see this in the upcoming Integrated Rail Strategy as it would show a real commitment to overcoming some of the most difficult challenges as we move towards a Net Zero future.
This decision seems even more surprising given the Chancellor also announced the reduction of Air Passenger Duty for domestic flights, a somewhat odd decision given the direction the Government seems to be moving to on Net Zero.
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