23 Nov 2016
Philip Hammond gave the Autumn Statement today, the first fiscal update from the Treasury since the UK’s vote to leave the EU. Here, we look at the announcements that will impact the science and business communities.
He reiterated the Government’s support for science R&D, announcing a £2bn annual research fund by 2020-21 for universities and businesses with R&D projects for technologies in fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and industrial biotechnology.
A new National Productivity Investment Fund of £23 billion by 2020-21 was announced to provide major additional spending in areas that are key to boosting productivity: transport, digital communications, R&D, and housing.
Elsewhere, money was allocated to transport with two major investments: a £390 million fund for future transport technology, including driverless cars, renewable fuels, and energy efficient transport; and money for transport infrastructure, including £27 million to develop an expressway connecting Oxford and Cambridge.
£1 billion will also be provided to support the private sector in rolling out more full-fibre broadband by 2020-21 and to support trials of 5G mobile communications.
The Chancellor made clear that two of his key priorities are to increase UK productivity, which is 30% worse than the US and Germany, and to provide certainty for business. To that end, future budgets will be announced in autumn to ensure clarity for companies well before the start of the next fiscal year, with a Spring Statement to respond to the Office for Budget Responsibility’s report.