PM launches £1.7bn city transport fund

The government has unveiled a new £1.7bn fund to boost transport connections in and around UK cities.

Prime minister Theresa May launched the Transforming Cities Fund with the aim of improving transport links and promoting local growth within city regions.

The investment, which comes ahead of the Autumn Budget on Wednesday, will be specifically targeted at addressing weaknesses in city transport systems and those between prosperous city centres and struggling suburbs.

This will include £250m to be invested in transport projects across the West Midlands.

Mrs May also pledged to increase public sector R&D spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027, a move the government claims could increase investment by £80bn over the next decade.

Writing in The Times today, Mrs May said: “This is a new long-term approach to shaping a stronger and fairer economy for decades to come.

“It helps young people to develop the skills they need to take up the high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future.”

The two funds will make up part of chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget on Wednesday.

The chancellor pledged over the weekend to use the Budget to support the construction of more than 300,000 homes a year and help tackle affordability issues in the housing sector.

Mr Hammond is also expected to announce a £76m fund for digital and construction skills and £160m to be invested in developing next generation 5G mobile networks across the UK.

The Budget will come ahead of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s white paper next Monday.

The white paper is expected to see the construction industry secure one of the department’s sector deals.

Last month Construction Leadership Council chairman and Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme said the industry had a 50:50 chance of securing a deal as part of the government’s industrial strategy.

The deal being sought by the CLC is a £250m government investment for research and development in the construction sector.

This money would then be match-funded by construction firms for projects to boost innovation and productivity.