UK to lead driverless car development with 100 million funding plan

Chancellor George Osborne announces new funding for the development of autonomous cars in his last budget before the General Election...

UK to lead driverless car development with 100 million funding plan

Chancellor George Osborne has announced new funding for autonomous vehicle development as part of his last budget before the general election this summer, as well as freezing fuel duty.

Opening his statement, the Chancellor said he was happy to "report on a Britain that is growing, creating jobs and paying its way".

The Chancellor announced the Chancellor announced an extra £100 million of funding to ensure Britain "stays ahead in the race to driverless technology".

That extra funding will not only be used to support pilot schemes, which are already taking place all over the UK, but also to develop the neccessary infrastructure to support autonomous vehicles, including advanced telecommunications.

Safeguarding the continued growth of low-emissions vehicles - those that emit less than 75g/km of CO2 - the Chancellor also announced that company car tax rates for low-emission vehicles would rise slower than previously planned in 2019/20. Other company car tax rates will rise by 3%.

On the economy, the Chancellor said that Britain is now "fundamentally stronger" than it was five years ago, pointing to figures which show the economy grew by 2.6% in 2014.

The planned rise in fuel duty, scheduled for September, has again been put back - a measure Osborne said would save the average family £10 each time they fill up a car. He said the move marked the longest freeze in fuel duty for 20 years, saying: "I want to make sure that the falling oil price is passed on at the pumps."

The Chancellor also announced a raft of new measures to encourage Britain’s growing manufacturing industry, including doubling support for British companies exporting to China. "Britain's manufacturing output has grown more than four and a half times faster than it did in the entire decade before the crisis," he said.

The government has also pledged to review the current driving test procedure for HGV drivers, with the aim of speeding up the process and addressing what it calls a "shortage of qualified HGV drivers."

George Osborne also praised apprenticeship schemes, saying the number of apprentices in Britain has doubled during his time in office. "We are getting the whole of Britain back to work with a truly national recovery," he said.

The Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking ahead of the budget, praised Jaguar Land Rover for its continued growth and tripled turnover over the past five years, saying that "manufacturing is growing again in the West Midlands, and we should be proud of that."