There’s money for rail, green energy and apprenticeships!March 24th, 2011 by Simon Haddock
George Osborne’s budget brought some welcome news for the rail industry. The Chancellor announced that the government could now afford to invest an additional £200 million in the UK’s regional railways.
The £85 million Ordsall Chord scheme, which links the two Manchester mainline stations of Piccadilly and Victoria, will now go ahead. This will reduce considerably the journey times between Leeds and Liverpool.
The government is also committing to the Swindon to Kemble redoubling scheme which will complement the electrification of the Great Western Main Line to Wales. The redoubling of the line will mean that it can be used as a diversionary route when the Severn Tunnel is closed for electrification.
The Chancellor also laid down his plans to make this the greenest government ever. He said we need to take two bold steps to make the green energy revolution a reality.
Firstly, there needs to be some stability to the price of carbon. The UK is to be the first country in the world to introduce a carbon price floor for the power sector. In 2013, a tonne of CO2 will cost around £16 and increase to a target of £30 a tonne by 2020. The government hopes this will provide a huge incentive for new investment in the country’s dilapidated energy infrastructure.
He also announced an extension of the Climate Change Agreements until 2023 and an increase in the Climate Change Levy discount from 65% to 80% as from April 2013.
The second bold step the Chancellor announced was the creation of the Green Investment Bank which will support low-carbon investment where the risks are too great or too long-term for the market. One billion pounds had already been committed to this project and an additional two billion has now been committed. The Green Investment Bank will now be able to start operating next year, a year earlier than originally planned.
We’ve also heard a lot recently about skills shortages in both the rail and renewable energy sectors. Osborne acknowledged that the lack of skills in this country is probably the biggest problem facing the economy in the future.
In addition to providing 100,000 work experience places for young people over the next two years, the government is going to fund 250,000 more apprenticeships in the next four years.
David Cameron has repeatedly said that private sector growth is essential if the UK is going to emerge from the recession as a top global competitor. Has this budget done enough to make this happen or should the Chancellor have done more? What measures would you like to have seen him introduce?
Tags: budget, budget 2011, chancellor, Energy, george osborne, green energy, green investment, jobs in Rail, Rail, rail industry, Rail Jobs, skills shortage, UK government, UK government skills shortage