Autumn Statement: Chancellor outlines broadband and business investment plans

Big ben

Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed that fast broadband services will be rolled out to a further 12 UK cities, as part of the Government's ongoing efforts to shore up the economy.

The plans were announced during the Chancellor's Autumn Statment today, where he revealed that the UK's economic growth prospects had fallen short of expectations at -0.1 per cent.

Back in April, it was predicted that the UK economy would grow by 0.8 per cent in 2012.

Britain is on the right track and turning back now would be a disaster.

Osborne said the Government was "reinforcing its commitment" to its deficit reduction plans, despite the impact they seem to be having on the wider economy.

"Britain is on the right track and turning back now would be a disaster," he said. "The deficit has fallen by a quarter in just two years...and it will continue to fall."

Whitehall budgets will be cut by one per cent next year, he revealed, and then by another two per cent thereafter.

"In the medium term these savings across Whitehall will help departments maintain the right trajectory for the years that follow and help us to pay off the deficit in future," he said.

In the past, similar budget cuts have prompted Government departments to renegotiate their IT contracts and software deals to save money.

These savings will be reinvested in other areas, he stressed, including infrastructure, schools, hospitals and roads.

"In the short term, I'm switching these current savings into capital all the money saved in the first two years will be re-invested as part of a 5 billion capital investment in the infrastructure of our country," Osborne explained.

The UK broadband network will be one of the main beneficiaries, with Osborne declaring that ultra-fast broadband services will be launched in 12 "smaller" cities, including Brighton and Hove, Cambridge, Coventry, Derby, Oxford, Portsmouth, Salford, York, Newport, Aberdeen, Perth and Londonderry.

The Government is also planning to invest another 600 million into the UK's scientific research infrastructure.

"Improving our education system is the best investment in a competitive economy," he added.

"Today I am committing 270 million to fund improvements in further education colleges and one billion pounds to expand good schools and build 100 new free schools and academies."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.