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CSR 2013: £100 billion of infrastructure investment announced

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In the wake of the spending review which yet again saw an arguably political axe taken to public services in the UK, a £100 billion ‘modernisation’ of the country’s infrastructure has been announced.

With dire warnings about the state of the National Grid suggesting power blackouts could well be imminent, the government has announced £10 billion in financial guarantees to EDF, and thus will be subsidising the investment required to begin building nuclear power stations in Britain again. EDF were requiring guarantees from the government about minimum pricing and some underwriting of investment before going any further with new reactors. Michael Fallon, the energy minister, presented the deal as a loan rather than a subsidy. "This is big-scale financing, not available in the markets."

About a fifth of Britain's power generation capacity is scheduled to close in the next decade, so action was certainly needed one way or another.

The planned infrastructure investment also included

£3 billion for 165,000 affordable homes

£28 billion for road improvements

£10 billion for school repairs

£30 billion for the railways

£250 million to extend fast broadband to rural areas

£370 million for flood defence and subsidised flood insurance

£800 million extra funding for Green Investment Bank

£150 million for health research

£100 millon for a new prison in Wales

Chancellor George Osborne said "you cannot just build a road in a week" but new homes, schools and roads were already finished and the coalition had a "long-term plan" rather than the "stop-start" approach of previous governments.

Danny Alexander described the plans as "the most comprehensive, ambitious and long-lasting capital investment plans this country has ever known.

“We are putting long-term priorities before short-term political pressures," he added

Labour meanwhile saw the announcement as "hilarious hyperbole", pointing out that there was no real increase in capital spending.

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor said ‘"George Osborne talks about capital spending but he's not actually acting.

"I don't think the public buy into this at all - I think people see their living standards falling, tax cuts for millionaires, the economy flatlining, unemployment high. The plan has completely failed.

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