Chancellor George Osborne has announced new funding for autonomous vehicle development as part of his last budget before the general election this summer.
Opening his statement, the Chancellor said he was happy to “report on a Britain that is growing, creating jobs and paying its way”.
Supporting figures that showed the UK economy grew by 2.6% last year, the fastest-growing in the world, the Chancellor said the British economy is “fundamentally stronger” than it was five years ago.
On the subject of autonomous vehicles, the Chancellor announced an extra £100 million of funding to ensure Britain “stays ahead in the race to driverless technology”. That funding will be used to both develop vehicles, as well as “the systems required to implement and adopt the technology, such as telecommunications.”
Safeguarding the continued growth of low-emission vehicles, 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%.
Fuel duty has again been scrapped, meaning the planned rise in September won't occur. The Chancellor said the move will save the average family £10 on the cost of filling up. "I want to make sure that the falling oil price is passed on at the pumps," he added. The move marks the longest freeze on fuel duty for 20 years.
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.