Infrastructure and housing at heart of spending plans

Chancellor Philip Hammond has put infrastructure and housing at the heart of his Autumn Statement as he committed billions of pounds to boosting construction.

In his speech, the chancellor (pictured) announced a £23bn National Productivity Investment Fund to be spent on infrastructure and innovation over the next five years in an attempt to boost the UK’s flagging productivity.

The government also loosened its purse strings, borrowing an extra £15bn for infrastructure investment. It is no longer committed to balancing the books by 2020, as former chancellor George Osborne was, with Hammond instead saying the public finances would return to surplus by sometime in the next parliament.

It is Hammond’s first and last Autumn Statement - he said the setpiece event would be cancelled from next year, with the Budget switching from the Spring to Autumn.

He also announced a new £2.3bn fund to improve infrastructure underpinning new housing developments, with a view to delivering 100,000 extra homes.

Hammond said he has written to the National Infrastructure Commission to plan on the basis the government will invest 1-1.3% of GDP in economic infrastructure from 2020, up from current levels of 0.8%.

The chancellor has also committed £1.1bn to upgrade the local transport network in England, with another £220m allocated to alleviating traffic pinch points and an extra £450m in funding to trial digital signalling on the railways.

Another £1.8bn from the Local Growth Fund will also be given to English regions to fund infrastructure upgrades.

In addition, the chancellor pledged £110m for East West Rail and a commitment to deliver the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.

Hammond also stressed the importance of private sector investment in infrastructure and announced he has extended the UK guarantees scheme, which underpins private investment in infrastructure, to 2026.

In housing, the chancellor pledged £3.15bn to London as “its share of national affordable housing funding” to deliver 90,000 new homes.

Also confirmed in the Autumn Statement was a £1.4bn fund for affordable housing, which the chancellor said would help build 40,000 extra affordable homes over the next five years.