Potholes to petrol: what does the Chancellor's budget mean for bikers?

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The budget by Chancellor Rishi Sunak looks like good news for bikers with a pledged £2.5 billion pothole fund, which should go some way to filling the estimated 50 million bone-jarring blemishes scarring UK roads.

While this a considerable increase over previous years (when about £1bn was the norm), the Asphalt Industry Alliance has previously produced a report based on information from local councils that suggested £10bn was needed to get UK roads up to scratch.

But AA President Edmund King was positive, saying: “Increased funding and a milder winter presents an opportunity to begin to catch up on the backlog, but any slackening off will simply pitch our roads back into a deep hole.”

UK pothole

Roads singled out for particular investment include the A417 in the South West, the East’s A428, the A46 in the Midlands and the region’s crucial A303 trunk route. The money will progress dualling the A66 Trans-Pennine and upgrading the A46 Newark bypass to address congestion.

It will also help build the Lower Thames Crossing, boosting road capacity across the Thames east of London by 90%, improve the M60 Simister Island in Manchester to reduce delays, add a new dual-carriageway and two-mile tunnel in the South West to accelerate travel on the A303 and remove traffic from Stonehenge.

Other targets include the A1/A19 north of Newcastle, Yorkshire’s A1 Doncaster to Darrington and the links between the M4 and the Dorset Coast.

There’s also a big chunk of money set aside to boost the uptake of electric vehicles, which should benefit motorcyclists looking to make the switch. The Plug-In vehicle grant has also been extended (to 2023) which sees anyone buying an electric motorcycle receive a grant from the government of up to £1500.

Patchy road surface in the UK

Sunak said: “We’re introducing a comprehensive package of tax and spend reforms to make it cheaper to buy zero or low emission cars, vans, motorbikes and taxis.”

At the moment, the Plug-In grant pays 20% of the purchase price of bikes with zero CO2 emissions and a range of at least 31 miles, up to a maximum of £1500. 

The Budget also announced investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, ‘which will ensure that drivers are never more than 30 miles from a rapid charging station’.  The Government has committed to spending £1 billion on ‘green transport solutions’. This includes £532 million for consumer incentives for ultra-low emission vehicles.

And in other good news, the fuel duty has been frozen for another 12 months, making it 10 years on the trot, so there shouldn’t be a sudden rise in petrol prices.

There were no changes to VED announced as part of the Budget, but HM Treasury issued a call for evidence to consider a move to a CO2-based system, aimed at promoting the purchase of new bikes. 

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Andy Calton

By Andy Calton

Motorcycling content director and Suzuki Katana rider