Chancellor to commit £1.3bn to improving Britain's road network

Chancellor Philip Hammond will announce £1.3 billion-worth of improvements to Britain's roads in the Autumn Statement, the Treasury has announced.

Wednesday's mini-Budget will include £1.1 billion to reduce congestion and upgrade local roads and transport networks, alongside £220 million to tackle "pinch points" on England's motorways and major A roads.

Mr Hammond will also green-light a £27 million expressway connecting Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge as recommended by the National Infrastructure Commission.

According to the Treasury, road congestion costs UK households £13 billion every year and by 2040 the equivalent of more than 100 million working days could be lost unless action is taken.

A Department for Transport source said: "We are building and improving roads because they are at the very heart of what makes communities work - linking people with jobs and businesses with customers.

"Our investment will benefit motorists by making their journeys safer, quicker and less congested - whilst creating thousands of jobs across the country."

It will form part of a wider package of billions of pounds-worth of infrastructure investment which will form the heart of the Chancellor's first set-piece policy speech.

Ahead of the launch of the Government's industrial strategy in the coming weeks, Mr Hammond is due to prioritise high value projects that can be built quickly and make an immediate economic impact.

The road improvement measures were agreed with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling as Mr Hammond seeks to change the approach of the Treasury.

In a move away from ex-chancellor George Osborne's stewardship, Mr Hammond will use the Autumn Statement to announce top level spending decisions rather than the full details of individual projects.

The Chancellor believes the Treasury should be focused on its core job of managing the public finances and economic policy, rather than doing other departments' spending jobs for them.

The Autumn Statement is also expected to focus on boosting productivity and helping so-called "just about managing" families.

On taking office, Prime Minister Theresa May identified such families - those who "have a job but don't always have job security" and worry about the cost of living - as a priority.

Although Mr Hammond has ditched Mr Osborne's goal of generating a budget surplus by 2020, he will still outline the need to continue with deficit reduction and address a reported £100 billion hole in the public finances caused by slower growth and lower investment after the Brexit vote.

The Government has already announced plans to ban pension cold calls which can leave people open to scams which trick them out of their life savings, and is reportedly expected to approve another freeze in fuel duty until April 2018.

Mrs May is expected to use a Monday speech to industry leaders at the CBI's annual conference to insist she is "unashamedly pro-business" and to announce fresh investment in science and research, according to reports.

The Sunday Telegraph claimed Mr Hammond was set to crack down on staff perks like gym memberships and mobile phone contracts which are offered to workers willing to forgo part of their salaries in return.

The move would help the Treasury raise more money in income tax receipts and national insurance contributions, the newspaper said.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told Mr Hammond to help people who will be affected as prices rise following the Brexit vote and to pay for it by scrapping tax cuts for the wealthy.

He called for a "real" living wage and a reversal in welfare cuts to Universal Credit and disability benefits.

Writing in the Observer, the Labour frontbencher said: "We need actual support for those in work on low and middle incomes, who will struggle as prices rise.

"The Chancellor can start by introducing a real living wage.

"He needs to provide honest solutions to the childcare crisis.

"Furthermore, he should reverse the giveaways to the wealthy and reverse those cuts, such as universal credit and employment and support allowance, to low and middle earners.

"Many people are indeed 'just about managing', but that is directly due to Tory economic policies that have favoured a rich few over the rest of us, and left many in our country behind while a few at the top have soared ahead."