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Spending for Health, People and Infrastructure
“One of the best examples of coordinated action globally.”
That was the conclusion of the International Monetary Fund when it examined the steps taken by The UK Government in response to the Covid crisis. The comment was one of the opening highlights in a Spending Review statement which was clear in its examination of the cost to the country of managing the Covid crisis.
Nevertheless, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, delivered a spending review which looked as much towards regeneration and protecting jobs as it did the ongoing management of the Covid pandemic. Announcements were made in respect of a range of initiatives from better broadband and mobile coverage to freeports and national infrastructure projects. There was also an emphasis on ‘levelling up’, ensuring that all areas of the country could benefit from local and national projects.
The Spending Review report contained some interesting information relating to the South West. To date some 809,000 jobs in the South West have been supported by the job retention scheme. In addition the first round of self employment support saw 209,000 west-country businesses applying for help; whilst the bounce back and coronavirus business interruption loan schemes delivered over £4b of loans to 107,689 businesses.
The report also confirmed some of the projects previously announced for the South West including funds to support the regeneration of 21 towns and a town deal confirmed with Torquay. Over £240m is to go to Plymouth, South East Dorset and the West of England Combined Authority to improve local transport whilst road projects include upgrading the A303 at Stonehenge and dualling the A358 Taunton to Southfields.
Buried in the report was a confirmation of the intention to upgrade personal allowances and national insurance rates for the 2021/22 tax year in line with September CPI.