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Five areas that received substantial government investment in 2017

19/12/17
Five areas that received substantial government investment in 2017

Alongside an impromptu general election and the ongoing Brexit negotiations, 2017 has also been a year of significant government investment. Health, education and other essential public services have all received substantial investments over the course of the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, the Government has also continued to invest in industry in order to create jobs and bolster the economy. Here are five areas where the Government has shown a key interest this year.

Housing

2017 may be the year that the Government finally got to grips with the ongoing housing shortage in the UK. Throughout the year, a series of initiatives and funding announcements has seen local councils free up land and help lay the foundations for substantial housing schemes.

In October, the Government unveiled plans for a new generation of council and housing association homes, with funding for affordable homes increased by a further £2 billion to more than £9 billion. This follows on from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) – a £2.3 billion launched in July which could unlock 100,000 new homes in areas of high demand.

Technology

In November it was announced that the Government is to invest an extra £21 million in Tech City UK over the next four years. The visa cap was also increased from 1,000 to 2,000 for exceptional talent coming to work in the UK as part of plans to ensure Britain has the most competitive tech market in the world.

There were also substantial investments announced in the fields of 5G, Artificial intelligence (AI), life sciences, FinTech and driverless technology. A number of initiatives were announced in 2017 including wider tax breaks to bring more investment into the sector.

A series of measures were put in place to allow new technology to be tested in the UK, such as allowing companies to test self-driving cars without safety operators. At the Budget, the Government announced £500,000 investment in AI, 5G and full fibre broadband, with £2.5 billion being made available to help businesses grow to scale and hopefully find the UK’s next tech unicorn.

Infrastructure

Huge infrastructure projects were announced throughout 2017, with billions of pounds being spent on roads and transport to create jobs and unlock economic potential. In July this year, the Government announced a £6.1 billion programme of road improvements as part of its ambitious £23 billion upgrade to the road network in England.

The massive investment will ensure that road users benefit from shorter journey times and reduced congestion. Creating better local connections will also boost local economies and attract outward investments.

In October, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling also announced a £48 billion fund to boost the railways over the next five years. The fund will enhance the reliability and punctuality of the rail network and create new, faster, more comfortable trains.

Scientific Research

Building on the UK’s strengths as one of the world’s leading centres to discover scientific breakthroughs has been at the forefront of the Government’s industrial strategy in 2017. In February, the Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark announced that the Government is pledging £15 million to back 125 cutting-edge research and development projects across the country.

At the Budget in November, Chancellor Philip Hammond said that the Government's target is to increase public and private research investment from 1.68% of GDP to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. He used his speech to commit an extra £2.3 billion in research and development investment by 2021/22, bringing the annual total to £12.5 billion.

Tourism and the countryside

In July, the Government announced a £200 million grant offer for rural businesses in order to generate thousands of new jobs and provide ongoing support to local economies. The grants will come from the Rural Development Programme with the current Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) expected to create 6,750 new jobs.

There has also been massive investment to help bring superfast broadband to the hardest to reach and most rural parts of the UK through the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme. Elsewhere, a continuation of the Coastal Communities Fund saw a further £40 million poured into seaside communities.

The funding is aimed at helping to rejuvenate coastal economies and boosting tourism in coastal areas which is now worth £8 billion to the economy each year. The money will be used for over 30 projects that will directly or indirectly create sustainable jobs, and safeguard existing jobs.

For more information on our Central Government and Transport practice, please visit the practice page.

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