A11 boost for Suffolk in Chancellor’s spending review

CHANCELLOR George Osborne has presented his long-awaited Comprehensive Spending Review to the House of Commons - and he had good news for Suffolk motorists.

The Chancellor said he would set out a four-year plan to put public services and the welfare state on a sustainable footing for the long term.

Councils will see their grants from the government cut by just over seven per cent a year for the next four years – leading to a total cut of about 28.5% over four years.

He gave the go-ahead for the dualling of the A11 around Elveden in Suffolk, meaning the whole route from Norwich to London will be dualled.

But ominously he did not mention upgrading the A14 west of Cambridge – increasing speculation that would be axed when the Highways Agency announces its plans for the future next week.

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The budget for schools is set to increase over the next four years – although there was little indication about whether long-awaited school building programmes like those planned in Ipswich and Felixstowe would be resurrected.

Mr Osborne said that Britain has the largest structural budget deficit in Europe at �109 billion and is paying �43 billion a year in debt interest.

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He pledged that today’s spending plans will achieve a balanced structural current budget and falling national debt in the period to 2014/15.

The key points are:-

- The state pension age for men and women will reach 66 by the year 2020, saving more than �5 billion a year by the end of the next Parliament.

- The Government will deliver �6 billion of Whitehall savings - double the �3 billion promised earlier, said the Chancellor.

- An estimated 490,000 total public sector jobs will be lost over the four years of the spending review period.

- The core Cabinet Office budget will be reduced by �55 million by 2014/15.

- The Treasury will see its overall budget reduced by 33% and the department’s building will be shared with part of the Cabinet Office.

- Total Royal Household spending will fall by 14% in 2012/13, while grants to the Household will be frozen in cash terms with a temporary additional facility of �1 million to support the costs of the Diamond Jubilee.

After that, the Royal Household will receive a new sovereign support grant linked to a portion of the revenue of the Crown Estate.

- There will be overall savings in funding to local councils of 7.1%, but ring-fencing of all local government revenue grants will end from April next year, except for simplified schools grants and a public health grant.

- Local government grant funding for social care to increase by an additional �1 billion by the fourth year of the review and a further �1 billion for social care will come through the NHS to support joint working with councils. Terms for existing social housing tenants and their rent will be unchanged, with new tenants offered intermediate rents at around 80% of the market rent.

The Chancellor forecast this would allow the building of up to 150,000 new affordable homes over the next four years.

- The Ministry of Defence budget will reach �33.5 billion in 2014/15, a saving of 8%, the Chancellor confirmed.

- The Foreign Office budget will see savings of 24% through a sharp reduction in the number of Whitehall-based diplomats and back office functions.

- Police spending will fall by 4% each year of the spending settlement, with the aim of avoiding any reduction in the visibility and availability of police in our streets.

- The Home Office budget will find savings of an average of 6% a year, as will the Ministry of Justice’s budget.

- Legislation to introduce a permanent tax levy on banks will be published tomorrow.

- HM Revenue and Customs budget will be expected to find resource savings of 15% through the better use of new technology and greater efficiency, while spending �900 million more on targeting tax evasion and fraud to help collect a missing �7 billion in tax revenues.

At the end of his speech, Mr Osborne said the total cuts amounted to 19% of government spending – considerably less than the 25 to 40% that had been suggested earlier in the year.

- Check this site for local reaction as it happens this afternoon.

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