Budget speech: £2bn of equity for government infrastructure investment bank; tax allowance for SMEs; stamp duty holiday

The chancellor Alistair Darling has promised £2bn of equity from a newly created government infrastructure investment bank to help boost public sector spending.

Initially, this will focus on green transport and sustainable energy, and in particular on wind power.

Following a severe winter, local authorities will receive £100m to repair roads, while the Highways Agency will receive a further £285m to improve the motorway network including hard shoulder running schemes.

Darling said: “The government will take forward plans for a high-speed rail line running to the Midlands and on to Scotland. Crossrail, Heathrow and high-speed rail will support 100,000 jobs.”

Elsewhere, the government has vowed to increase the number of contracts going to SMEs by 15% and £94bn in new business loans will be available to SMEs from RBS and Lloyds.

SMEs will also see a doubling in tax allowance to £100,000 for purchasing plant and machinery.

Darling also promised that government would help all businesses by adhering to a payment time of just five days.

The chancellor also announced that first time buyers would be exempt from stamp duty on properties under £250,000, while those buying homes costing more than £1m will see a 5% increase for two years.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation said: “This budget is a huge boost to both home buyers and the house building industry. I am pleased the government has recognised the importance of ensuring that people are able to buy homes.”