£270m would be allocated to disruptive technologies the chancellor said ©PA Images
£270m would be allocated to disruptive technologies the chancellor said ©PA Images

Hammond announces millions for robotics and driverless vehicles

8 March 2017

The chancellor of the exchequer has given more detail about how a £23bn infrastructure investment pot will be spent.

In his Spring Budget statement today, the chancellor Philip Hammond said:

  • £270m would be allocated to “disruptive technologies”, including biotechnology, robotics and driverless vehicles
  • £220m would address congestion “pinch points” on the national road network
  • £690m would fund a “competition for local authorities” to tackle urban congestion and improve transport networks

Hammond said details of this competition would shortly be announced by the transport secretary, adding: “We believe local areas understand local productivity barriers better than central government.”

A further £16m – also from this infrastructure pot – will be spent on 5G mobile internet technology, and £200m on local projects to encourage private investment into fibre-optic broadband ­as part of the £1bn Hammond has previously pledged to develop a “world class digital infrastructure”. 

Hammond announced he would be borrowing £23bn to fund all of the above projects in his Autumn Statement last November.

In his statement today, the chancellor also said the Office for Budget Responsibility, the UK's fiscal watchdog, had upgraded the UK’s growth forecast for this year to 2%, up from 1.4%. 

Hammond also confirmed the final rates for the sugar tax would be either 18p and 24p per litre, depending on total sugar content. He said he was “delighted to announce a reduction in the expected yield of [the] tax” as firms were already reformulating their drink recipes to reduce sugar.

To prepare the UK for “a global future” outside the European Union, Hammond announced a number of investments in skills and training, particularly for technical skills. These included the creation of a technical equivalent of an A-level qualification, called a “T-level”, for 16 to 19-year-olds. 

The government will also spend up to £40m by 2018-19 piloting different approaches up-skilling the UK workforce and encouraging lifelong learning.

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