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Budget preview | Crossrail 2, T-levels and robots

Apprentices, Transport for London

London politicians have said they hope today’s Budget will give support to Crossrail 2.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is also expected to introduce new T-Level qualifications in his Spring Budget.

But there are concerns that the £27bn Crossrail 2 project, which will run between the north and south of London, will miss out due to concerns that other areas of the country are losing out on infrastructure projects. Schemes such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, the proposed east-west rail line across the north of the UK, may be seen as an alternative.

Recent figures from the Institute for Public Policy Research North claim that the infrastructure pipeline shows a projected gap of £1,500 spent per person per year on transport infrastructure in the North, compared with that spent per head in London.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he hoped the budget would give a “strong and unequivocal statement of support for Crossrail 2 – which is vital for Britain’s future economic success” in an article in London’s Evening Standard newspaper.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) of London MPs is also putting pressure on the Department for Transport for a Crossrail 2 commitment.

Bromley & Chislehurst MP Bob Neill, who co-chairs the APPG, said: “London’s economic health is important to the whole of the UK. Ultimately, when London succeeds, Britain prospers. We must therefore continue to invest in the infrastructure that keeps our capital moving, and Crossrail 2 – a proposal that has widespread support across the city – is central to those plans going forward.

“It is crucial that, regardless of political persuasion, MPs, business leaders and other stakeholders rally behind this project and make the case to ministers, loud and clear, that this is a vitally important scheme and one that must receive government backing. That is a message the APPG for London will continue to throw its full weight behind.”

Meanwhile, the biggest overhaul of post-16 qualifications in 70 years is expected to be announced in today’s budget, with new T-level qualifications providing a technical equivalent to A-Levels.

Chancellor Philip Hammond will reveal a £500M per year plan to replace 13,000 different technical qualifications with just 15 options, according to The Telegraph.

Students taking courses including engineering and construction could receive around 900 extra teaching hours as a result of the changes. It is hoped the radical shake up will bring the quality of technical education in line with academic education, ensuring the UK has the right skills ahead of Brexit.

Hammond is also expected to annouce £320M of spending for 140 new free schools, the BBC reports, along with £216M to refurbish and rebuild existing schools.

A £270M boost is expected for research into develop artificial intelligence and robots for sectors such as nuclear, off-shore energy and space. The money would come from the National Productivity Investment Fund.

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