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Budget confirmation for funding of M6 Link for Heysham

John Freeman
The Chancellor George Osborne today announced his Budget, with plans to reform the nation's economy and, he claims, steps to help families with the cost of living.

He also confirmed of funding for the hugely controversial link road between the M6 and Heysham.

The Budget confirms that the Government will stick to its plan to reduce the deficit and sets out a new model of economic growth, based on investment, manufacturing and exports, which they claim will see prosperity "shared across all regions and across all sectors".

Specific measures announced in today's budget to support growth in the North West include:
  • A 1 per cent cut in corporation tax from April 2011 to 26 per cent, falling to 23 per cent by 2014, with an increase in the bank levy from January 2012 to offset the benefit to banks.
  • The introduction of 21 new Enterprise Zones based on Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas, to encourage new investment in areas with untapped growth potential. The Budget confirms that two of the first Enterprise Zones will be located in the North West, led by the Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region LEPs. 
  • £100m additional funding in 2011-12 for science investment projects, including £10m for the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus in Cheshire.
  • Improved access to finance for SMEs through major reform of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trust schemes, providing more generous tax breaks and ensuring that more companies are eligible for support.
  • Extension of the current small business rate relief (SBRR) holiday. Eligible businesses occupying properties with rateable values of up to £6,000 will pay no business rates for one year from 1 October 2011 and those with rateable values of up to £12,000 will receive significant reductions. 67% of properties in the North West have a rateable value of up to £12,000 and could benefit from this measure.
The Chancellor also announced measures he claimed would help people this year and make the tax and benefit system fair and sustainable, including:

  • Increasing the personal allowance by £630 in April 2012 to £8,105. 2.68 million North West taxpayers will gain by £48 a year in 2012-13, and 28,000 will be taken out of tax altogether.
  • Funding for an additional 80,000 new work experience places for unemployed young people, ensuring that up to 100,000 places will be available over the next two years. An estimated 12,800 young people in the North West could benefit.
  • National roll-out of the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) to support up to 40,000 unemployed people to start their own business. An estimated 4,600 unemployed people in the North West could benefit from the NEA.

Capital Investment projects confirmed in the Budget include

  • Thornton to Switch Island Link - £14.5m for a new single carriageway road which will take traffic away from communities in Sefton; and Heysham to M6 Link Road - £110.9m for a bypass to the north of Lancaster, connecting Heysham to the M6. 
  • £900m of rail electrification projects on railway lines between Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Blackpool. This will be completed by 2018.
  • The Ordsall Chord - £85 million of investment which will link Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly stations, supporting significant reductions in journey times between Leeds and Liverpool.
"Today's Budget sets out measures that will support strong and sustainable private sector growth, reform the economy and tax system and help people in the North West to make ends meet in these difficult times," claimed Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander. "It takes affordable action to reduce fuel prices while raising the threshold at which people start paying tax, taking a further 260,000 people out of income tax altogether and reducing the tax paid by 25 million people by an average of £48".

Commenting on the Ordsall Chord project, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond says the Government’s investment in this £85m scheme is "great news for rail passengers on both sides of the Pennines and shows the Government’s commitment to investing in our existing railways, while also planning a new high speed network.

“This new stretch of track will enable Trans Pennine trains from Leeds, York, Hull, Middlesbrough and Newcastle to use Manchester Victoria and continue on to Liverpool as well as Manchester Airport. This will cut average journey times between Leeds and Manchester by 15 minutes and between Leeds and Liverpool by around 35 minutes.

“In addition, this scheme will allow a 50% increase in trains between Leeds and Manchester via Huddersfield and release much needed platform capacity at Manchester Piccadilly. The scheme is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.”