£2 billion support for Hinkley Point C

£2 billion support for Hinkley Point CGeorge Osborne has insisted new nuclear power stations are essential to make sure the lights stay on, as he gave the go-ahead to the initial government guarantee for the first such plant in Britain for 20 years.

While on a five day tour of China, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the new government guarantee, provided by Infrastructure UK, for a new nuclear power station planned for Hinkley Point C in Somerset.

The initial deal is set to be worth around £2 billion and will pave the way for a final investment decision by energy company EDF, supported by China General Nuclear Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation, later this year, and with further amounts potentially available in the longer-term.

The construction and operation of Hinkley Point C will create thousands of jobs in Somerset and more widely in the nuclear industry across the UK, as well as boosting Britain’s energy security.

The new plant is expected to produce enough energy to supply seven per cent of the country’s needs, powering around six million homes.

It is also expected to open the door to unprecedented collaboration in the UK and China on the construction of new nuclear power stations.

Chancellor George Osborne said: “Britain was the home to the very first civil nuclear power stations in the world and I am determined that we now lead the way again.

So I am delighted to announce this guarantee for Hinkley Point today and to be in China to discuss their investments in Britain’s nuclear industry.

It is another move forward for the golden relationship between Britain and China – the world’s oldest civil nuclear power and the world’s fastest growing civil nuclear power.”

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said: “We will continue to work with EDF to finalise the Hinkley deal, which will power nearly six million homes and create more than 25,000 jobs – providing more financial security for working people and their families as we transition to a low-carbon future.”

Mayor names London’s first Housing Zones

London Mayor Boris JohnsonThe Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has today named London’s first Housing Zones that will pave the way for thousands of new jobs in the construction industry.

In nine boroughs, the new Zones will bring forward enormous regeneration and transform key areas of the capital, with £260 million of new investment to deliver 28,000 much needed new homes across the capital.

London’s first Housing Zones will unlock the redevelopment of 1897.42 hectares of brownfield land across the capital, the equivalent of 2,656 football pitches.

The special status has been awarded to areas identified by London boroughs as key opportunity sites, to maximise development, fast track homes and deliver much needed infrastructure to boost development. The Housing Zone status will remain until 2025.

Part of the Mayor’s commitment to double housebuilding as London’s population continues to boom, the first of the new Zones will create more than 56,000 construction jobs on 52 schemes across the capital.

Creating first class new neighbourhoods, measures agreed within the Zones include: 5 station upgrades; 5 new schools; 4 new bridges, 2 new civic centres; a new park, a new ‘3G’ football pitch, shops, restaurants, and libraries. They will also include more than 9,000 low cost homes, for some of the capital’s most essential workers.

The Mayor’s announcement comes on the day he and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, outlined a package of measures to boost the city’s economy and support infrastructure including housing.

London’s first Housing Zones will be in the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Ealing, Royal Borough of Greenwich, Haringey, Harrow, Hounslow, Lewisham, Wandsworth. More across London are currently being considered with around 20 expected to be designated by later his year. Together they will provide over 50,000 new homes across London.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “As London’s population continues to boom, already at its highest since records began and with more growth predicted, housing is a huge challenge. We need to double housebuilding and provide a million more homes by 2025.

These innovative new Housing Zones, the first of their kind in the UK, will trigger regeneration and turbo boost the transformation of the capital’s brownfield sites, creating tens of thousands of new homes for hard working Londoner in first class new neighbourhoods.”

Travelodge to create 3,000 new jobs and boost the trades

Travelodge to create 3,000 new jobs and boost the tradesHotel chain Travelodge has revealed an eight-year plan to 3, 000 jobs across the UK with the opening of 150 new hotels that will boost the construction trades.

The new hotels include four London locations, cementing Travelodge’s position as the capital’s biggest hotel brand; a new central Glasgow property and key regional locations including the Thames Valley tech corridor, Southampton and Bristol.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne visited Birmingham Airport Travelodge had welcomed news that Travelodge is set to create more than 3,000 jobs across the UK as it looks to boost its estate by opening more than 150 new hotels over the next eight years.

George Osborne said: “Our long-term economic plan for the Midlands is to make the area an Engine for Growth by backing business and supporting growth. The expansion of a great British brand like Travelodge within a growing hotel and leisure industry in the UK, is fantastic news.”

“Travelodge’s expansion is not just reliant however on tourists as increased demand from business customers and families have also boosted growth.”

Peter Gowers, Travelodge Chief Executive said: “We are well underway with our plans to build new Travelodge. We’re investing more than £100m in modernising our hotels for our customers and we now have 87% of guest rooms upgraded to our new look. In 2015 we are opening 15 new hotels, creating 400 new jobs and extending our network still further.

“With our modernised hotels and unbeatable value, we are well placed to serve the rapidly growing demand for low-cost travel. We see the potential for more than 150 further hotels across the UK and look forward to creating more great places to stay and thousands more jobs over the years ahead.”

Long term growth and jobs boost for the Midlands

Long term growth and jobs boost for the MidlandsJobs, skills, transport, science, and quality of life are at the heart of the six-point long term economic plan to make the Midlands the Engine for Growth in the UK, announced today by the Prime Minister and Chancellor.

The Prime Minister and Chancellor today set out their six-point long term economic plan for the Midlands showing what has been delivered, what is underway and what more can be done to make the Midlands an engine for growth.

In a speech at Bombardier in Derby, David Cameron and George Osborne set out the detailed plan as part of a two day tour of the region.

The plan aims to raise the long term growth rate of the Midlands to at least the forecast long term growth rate of the whole UK – adding an extra £34 billion to the Midlands economy in real terms by 2030, equivalent to over £3,000 per person.

It will also create 300,000 extra jobs in the Midlands by backing the core strengths of the local economy like advanced manufacturing and engineering.

Prime Minister, David Cameron said: “We are building a more resilient economy to benefit hard working people across the Midlands, from its great cities to the stunning countryside of the Derbyshire Dales.

We are already seeing more jobs and greater growth in the region, but we want to see more. That’s what our long term economic plan will do – it will help the region build on its success and create new opportunities through massive investment in infrastructure and housing.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne said: “Our long term economic plan for the Midlands aims to make it an engine for growth in the UK to ensure that we have a truly national recovery.

Under this government, the Midlands has been growing and creating jobs faster than the average for the whole of the UK.

The challenge now is to sustain this which is why the Prime Minister and I are here today setting out our long-term plan to create 300,000 new jobs, boost the Midland’s growth by over £30 billion and significantly improve the quality of life.”

Stamp duty reform accelerates hundreds of new homes

Stamp duty reforms – factsheetSouthampton house builder Crest Nicholson has announced it will bring forward the next phase of development at Centenary Quay and build 280 new homes – 128 of them in the next year – following government reforms to stamp duty.

New analysis by the company also revealed today that the reforms will save buyers in Southampton over £1,660 per transaction and increase demand for new homes.

In addition, since 2013 44% of sales at Centenary Quay were made through the government’s Help to Buy scheme and a further 101 apartments were sold for Build to Rent.

The news comes as Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne met homebuyers at Crest Nicholson’s Centenary Quay development in Southampton.

Read the government’s stamp duty factsheet, for information on the changes.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “This is great news for Southampton – not only are Crest Nicholson building more homes quicker but buyers will also see real cash saving when they purchase a house.

Stamp duty was one of the worst designed taxes and acted as a brake on aspiration for those who wanted to get on or move up the housing ladder. The new system means there will be tax cut for 98% of homebuyers who pay stamp duty.

Together with the government’s Help to Buy scheme, which has helped more than 10,000 people in the South-East and over 71,000 people across the country buy their new home, we’re taking action to help hard-working taxpayers achieve their goals – and for many, their biggest goal is owning their own home. It’s a key part of our long term economic plan.”

Debbie Aplin, Managing Director of Crest Nicholson Regeneration, said: “The recent changes to the stamp duty system are extremely welcome. These reforms will undoubtedly boost activity in the housing market, re-stimulating building rates and enable us to drive the rate of sales back to pre-recessionary levels.

This will in turn support further job creation and have a positive overall impact on the entire economy. Most importantly though, the impact of changes to stamp duty will remove a lot of uncertainty for consumers over the coming months, helping to solve the affordability challenge so many purchasers are facing. “

Help to Buy: boosting the trades and helping first-time buyers

Help to buyToday’s Help to Buy official statistics show that the government’s scheme is successfully targeting the people that need it most, having helped almost 40,000 first-time buyers onto the housing ladder.

Out of a total of 48,393 Help to Buy completions to date, 82% have been made by first-time buyers while boosting economic growth and creating new jobs in the construction industry.

Overall, 94% of the total 48,393 completions under the scheme have been made by households outside of London.

The equity loan scheme in particular is also helping to drive an increase in the number of homes that are being built in the UK.

At the same time the construction sector has been growing for 15 consecutive months, and is currently experiencing the sharpest rise in house building orders since 2003, while companies are taking on new workers at the fastest rate since 1997.

Help to Buy also continues to support responsible lending: the average house price for both parts of the scheme, at £187,800, remains significantly below the national average house price of £265,000.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has been clear that responsible lending is a core aspect of Help to Buy scheme. He announced that new mortgage guarantee loans would be restricted to 4.5 times borrowers’ income, in line with the introduction of a loan-to-income limit on mortgage lending by the Bank of England.

Continuing the trends that started to emerge in previous Help to Buy figures, today’s official statistics show that the scheme is benefiting every region of the country.

The Chancellor said: “Help to Buy is working exactly as we intended. It’s helping first time buyers onto the housing ladder.

“It’s a key part of our long term economic plan, which is supporting hard working people to secure a better future for their families.

“Importantly, Help to Buy is also driving a big increase in house building in Britain, boosting the construction industry and increasing housing supply”

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said: “I am delighted that over 48,000 people have already been helped onto or up the housing ladder as a result of the Help to Buy scheme.

“Today’s figures show that the government is delivering on its commitment to make home ownership a reality for as many households across the country as possible.”

Northern cities unveil joint plan for improved connections

One North  Region’s cities unveil joint plan for improved connectionsA new transport plan developed by key Northern cities has been presented to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins.

The ambitious programme will maximise economic growth across the north, boosting transport links and helping rebalance the national economy while creating new jobs.

Councillor Keith Wakefield Leader of Leeds City Council said: “The North has long been calling for better connectivity between cities outside London. Getting the right investment in our transport systems would deliver unprecedented change to better connect people and jobs, which is crucial if we also want to rebalance the national economy.”

The £15 billion investment plan, which complements the HS2 proposals, could deliver benefits for the whole of the North of England including up to 150% additional capacity on roads and as much as 55% faster journey times on a faster, more frequent interconnected rail network.

It would also deliver new trains running on a dedicated 125 mph trans-Pennine rail-link, a faster route to Newcastle and better access to ports and airports – improving freight and logistics movements across the country and benefiting personal and business travellers.

The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson said: “In the 19th Century almost half of the world’s trade moved through the Port of Liverpool, but getting freight to and from the Liverpool City Region is just as important today – the planned SuperPORT is going to increase volume by 70% in 2030.

“So we need better, faster connectivity – both East-West and through HS2. Improved trans-pennine connections will lead to a huge, exciting boost in commercial confidence and growth across the North as millions of people find it easier to do business with each other.”

Grangemouth plant gets £230m government investment

Grangemouth plant gets £230m government investmentThe Treasury has confirmed it will guarantee a £230 million loan for Grangemouth petrochemical plant in Scotland to build Europe’s largest ethane storage tank.

The project will protect thousands of jobs in Scotland and is critical for the long term future of the site.

The guarantee will allow work to start at Grangemouth straight away and the first order for construction materials has already been placed.

This is the latest infrastructure project to be supported by the UK Guarantees scheme which underwrites loans for major infrastructure across as energy, transport, communications, waste and housing.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “Over £1 billion of infrastructure projects have now been brought forward as a result of the UK guarantees scheme and £36 billion worth of projects are pre qualified.

“Our action is creating the right conditions for more investment in our infrastructure, helping to build a stronger economy and a fairer society across the country.

“The Grangemouth guarantee is fantastic news for Scotland’s economic future, and for the UK’s energy security.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “The UK Guarantees scheme is a key part of our long term economic plan to equip the whole country with the infrastructure it needs to compete, and is only possible because of the credibility of the UK government’s balance sheet.

“The Grangemouth project is the first project of its kind being supported by this radical, innovative approach.

“It will provide essential raw materials to industries across the UK and through our action we are helping to secure thousands of skilled, well paid, long term jobs for the future.”

Cambridge City Deal gets signed

Cambridge City Deal gets signedA deal that could see a £1 billion investment in the Greater Cambridge area has been signed by central government and local representatives.

The deal will accelerate delivery of 33,480 planned homes and enable the delivery of an extra 1,000 new homes as well as paving the way for new jobs in the building trades.

Greg Clark said: “Cambridge is one of Britain’s most successful cities and the government is backing that success. The Greater Cambridge City Deal is a massive £1 billion boost to the local economy, making sure Cambridge has the transport, housing and skills to continue its phenomenal success.”

The game changing deal was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his budget speech this year and follows intensive negotiation with Cambridge City Council and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership.

The deal will secure hundreds of millions of pounds of additional funding for investment in transport infrastructure to support high quality economic and housing growth over the coming decades.

According to local business leaders one of the main barriers to economic success is lack of housing or transport measures.

The first £100 million of funding will be made available in the 5 years from April 2015. Transport improvements as a result of the deal will start to be seen within the first year of this period.


London housing zones to create 50,000 new homes

London housing zones to create 50,000 new homesThe Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and Mayor of London Boris Johnson have today announced that 50,000 new homes, across 20 new housing zones, will be created in London.

The announcement came as they were visiting a prospective new zone in Enfield, North London, which will see the building of new homes and create new jobs.

Local authorities identify and package together brownfield land which could be used for development into a housing zone, remove all unnecessary planning restrictions across it and partner with a developer to build new homes. The absence of planning constraints in these zones will significantly accelerate construction.

Central government supports housing zones by making loans available to local authorities for necessary infrastructure and other remedial work on the site.

Last November the Mayor’s Housing Strategy set out plans for ten potential housing zones, today’s announcement will double that as central government and the Greater London Authority (GLA) will each offer £200 million for twenty zones.

The Chancellor and Mayor launched the scheme today at Meridian Water, an 85 hectare former industrial site in Enfield that has the potential for 5,000 new homes, new schools, a library and commercial space, linking to the nearby Lea Valley regional park.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer said: “A key part of our long term economic plan is to build the houses Britain needs, so that families have the economic security that comes with home ownership.

House building is at its highest since 2008 across London and England, but there is still a lot more to do to tackle the UK’s long term housing challenge.”

The Mayor of London said: “Housing is the biggest challenge facing London’s economic development and these new £400 million housing zones will turbo boost housing supply across the capital.

“This major regeneration will transform communities and provide up to 50,000 much needed homes. They will support 250,000 Londoners into low cost home ownership over the next decade.”