George Osborne has set out the government’s spending plans for the next four and a half years. Follow it as it happened below.
12.25pm: It’s still prime minister’s questions but David Cameron has set the scene for the spending review that civils professionals want to hear by saying Parliament will hear “more about” a “very clear infrastructure plan” when Osborne stands up. See box below
12.30pm: Cameron is still being bombarded with questions on the Middle East, the health service and various other issues. Osborne soon.
12.34pm: The chancellor is on his feet delivering his spending review. Debt will start falling this year, he says.
12.37pm: This is a big spending review by a government that does big things, says the government’s own Tom Hanks.
12.41pm: It’s all still political posturing. Stay tuned for actual announcements some time soon. Get to the infrastructure spending, George.
12.44pm: Yes Mr Speaker! John Bercow tells a rowdy MP to take up yoga to calm himself down. “You’ll find it beneficial, man!”
12.46pm: Growth of between 2% and 2.5% forecast each year this Parliament. A budget surplus by 2019/20. And then the first mention of capital investment, and building the infrastructure the country needs. But will he explicitly back Crossrail 2? High Speed 2? Fixing potholes or bridges?
12.51pm: £12bn of cuts to departmental budgets announced. Day-to-day spending will only fall by 0.8% each year in real terms, Osborne says.
12.57pm: Investment in infrastructure is named as the second aim of the government, alongside the so-called devolution revolution (which sounds like a Rizzle Kicks B-side to me) and behind only the health service, which Osborne says will be “brilliant seven days a week”.
1.04pm: He’s talking devolution and transport powers now. Twenty-six enterprise zones have been created. If this was hide and seek, I’d be telling you that in the hunt for infrastructure news we’re getting very warm indeed.
1.05pm: Local areas will be able to keep certain rates income to spend on infrastructure projects. We will need to see the post-speech documents to get to the detail of this.
1.08pm: Northern Ireland’s budget for capital spending will rise by £600M over this Parliament.
1.09pm: Scotland’s capital budget will rise by £1.9M to 2021, avoiding the “catastrophic cuts” in public services that Osborne said would have been inevitable if the country had voted for independence.
1.10pm: DfT faces 37% revenue cuts but capital spending increases because “we are the builders” says Osborne. High Speed 2 will be funded, Electrification of the Trans-Pennine line and others will go ahead, there will be £11bn for London transport schemes. Cycling will be backed and £500M for roads maintenance found. A permanent pothole fund will be established.
1.12pm: Support for small-scale nuclear and fracking despite a 22% cut in Decc’s revenue budget. Backing for flood defence work but cuts for Defra’s day-to-day spending. Energy price help for steel firms. It’s all rushed out amid cheers and jeers but the detail will be in the post-speech documents.
1.17pm: He’s moved on to other departments now, which generally have less influence on construction. Great to see him put transport, energy and flood defence spending behind only health. HS2 continues to get high profile backing as well. But nothing about Crossrail 2, which won’t please Ceca.
1.25pm: I’m still here. He’s talking about education. The Treasury Twitter account went strangely quiet during the infrastructure announcements so I can’t go back and get you extra detail - yet.
1.27pm: Twice as much cash will be spent by the government on apprenticeships by 2020 as in 2015. The apprenticeship levy will be set at 0.5% of employers’ wage bill, with a £15,000 allowance per firm meaning 98% won’t have to pay it at all. Should be something in the documents about how this will interact with the CITB’s construction apprenticeships levy.
1.30pm: We choose to build, says George. He’s now talking about housing. And whistling the Bob the Builder theme tune. Maybe.
1.36pm: Defence now.
1.39pm: He’s finished. I’m off to hunt through the documents and shift through the reaction. More to come on NCE but in the meantime here is a useful resource for seeing the headline announcements.
Spending review preview
Chancellor George Osborne has £4trn to play with today – but this will still require cuts to various budgets as he looks to cut the deficit and create a surplus in time for the next general election in 2020.
The chancellor has claimed that he will spend £100bn this parliament on infrastructure, and that construction will be at the heart of today’s spending review.
But concerns were raised earlier this month when he said the DfT was one of four government departments that had agreed to cut their revenue spending by an average of 30% over the next four years. Further details of where these cuts will come from are expected today.
Also on the cards are further details of the cross-industry apprenticeship tax, and how it may clash with the construction industry’s own levy.