Council leaders welcome Chancellor’s budget funding for Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire County Council leaders have reacted to millions of pounds in funding pledged by new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak for everything from pothole repairs to flood defences and coronavirus support in today’s (Wednesday) Budget.

Coun Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council. EMN-201103-174841001

Coun Martin Hill, leader of the County Council, said: “The major news in today’s budget is the £30bn to tackle coronavirus.

“Despite the ongoing efforts of both national and local government to reduce the spread of the virus, there is likely to be a significant impact on the country.

“This funding package will not only help the health service cope with the added pressures, but also lessen the knock-on effects on the economy.

“While this will undoubtedly grab the headlines, there were many other things to celebrate in today’s budget.

“In a rural county like Lincolnshire, good roads are vital, so it was welcome news that the Government will be investing an enormous £2.5bn in pothole repairs over the next five years.”

The East Midlands will receive £56 million in additional funding for local road maintenance through the Potholes Fund in 2020-21.

Coun Hill added: “We’ll be pushing to make sure Lincolnshire gets its fair share of this national funding, helping us to undo some of the damage done by the winter weather.

“This comes on top of the £4m the county council is spending on extra highways gangs this year, who’ll carry out additional maintenance.

“In addition, the Government has agreed to upgrade the A46 Newark bypass. The A46 is an important link for the county and these improvements will bring local benefits.”

This is part of £500 million spent on major road schemes in the East Midlands between 2020 and 2025.

Coun Hill went on: “I’m sure motorists will also welcome the chancellor’s decision to freeze fuel duty, which will make a real difference to business and family budgets alike.

“Of course, these days, digital connections are just as important, and the chancellor has promised £5bn to get gigabit-capable broadband into the hardest to reach places.

“In addition, there’s £510m of new investment for the shared rural mobile phone network, which will extend 4G coverage to 95% of the country in the next five years.

“We know flooding is a top-priority for many people, which is why the county council this year set aside more than £2m for extra drainage repairs and new flood-response equipment for Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue.

“And I’m pleased the Government has today committed £5.2bn towards improved flood defences over the next six years - announcing at least £75 million for Skegness, £12 million for Tattershall, and £6 million for Boston - to better protect over 17,000 properties.”

Coun Colin Davie, executive member for economy and place, added: “This is such a positive budget, backing British business and investing for the future.

“Lincolnshire’s economy will certainly feel the benefits – from the abolition of business rates for 12 months and cash grants for small businesses, to the increased investment in infrastructure, research and development.

“The £5billion in new export loans to help businesses export and grow is very welcome news for Lincolnshire companies who want to develop into export markets, and seize the opportunities from Brexit. Dedicated trade envoys representing the Midlands in embassies around the world is also great news for our future trading relationships.

“And those wishing to start out in business in the county will be helped by the announcement of £130m of new funding to extend Start-up Loans.

“Good connections are vital to both businesses, so I’m pleased to see increased investment in roads and road maintenance, along with funding for enhanced broadband and a freeze on fuel duty which will benefit those in rural areas most.”

On the flood defence funding, an Environment Agency spokesman said it was too early to outline the details of how the money will be spent on flood defence projects which it had put forward to ministers in advance for possible funding

Emma Howard Boyd, chairman of the Environment Agency said: “Flooding is an awful experience for people to go through and it is damaging to the economy. People want to be warned and protected, and where that isn’t possible they want to be able to get back to normal quickly.

“Today’s £5.2 billion for flood protection is hugely significant to the resilience of the UK. As the climate emergency increases flood risk, this funding will allow us to invest in infrastructure and nature-based solutions so that otherwise vulnerable communities can both have better protection against flooding and be more resilient when it happens, so that they can continue to thrive.”

Increases in the National Insurance threshold and the National Living Wage announced today will mean someone working full-time on the minimum wage in the East Midlands will be over £5,200 better off compared to ten years ago when the Conservatives’ came into office.

Commenting, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said: “We are making record investments in infrastructure, the NHS and public services to bring security today and a plan for prosperity tomorrow so we can unleash the potential of people across the country.

“But most of all, this Budget proves we are a Government that tackles the big issues and gets things done. And we will continue to get things done to ensure opportunity is there for everyone in every corner of the country.”