Wales politics

Budget 2016: Severn bridge tolls to be halved

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionGeorge Osborne says he was listening to Welsh Tory MPs who had made a case for cutting tolls

Toll charges on the Severn crossings will be halved in 2018, Chancellor George Osborne has announced in his Budget.

The current £6.60 toll for cars - already due to be cut to £5.40 - is now expected to fall to around £3.30, subject to inflation.

Mr Osborne said he had listened to the concerns of Conservative MPs in Wales.

Tax breaks for a Port Talbot enterprise zone, in the wake of job losses at Tata Steel, were also announced.

Image copyright Getty Images

Other measures include:

  • An extra £3.5bn in extra public spending cuts by 2020
  • A UK-wide tax on the makers of sugary drinks to raise £530m
  • Fuel and alcohol duties frozen
  • Cigarette duties up 2% and rolling tobacco up 3% from 18:00 GMT
  • Income tax personal allowance up to £11,500 from 2017/18
  • Higher 40% rate of income tax to start at £45,000 in 2017/18
  • ISA limit raised from £15,000 to £20,000 a year for all savers
  • 0.5% increase in tax on insurance premiums to raise an extra £700m
  • Corporation tax to be cut from 20% to 17% by April 2020
  • The Welsh Government budget to rise by £380m between now and 2020

Severn bridge tolls are currently collected by a firm to pay for the construction and running costs, which are due to be repaid by 2018.

The current charge - only paid by vehicles travelling from England into Wales - is £6.60 for cars, £13.20 for vans and £19.80 for lorries and buses.

The toll booths could be removed and replaced by a system of online payments, if a UK government review recommends it.

'Step forward'

Monmouth Conservative MP David Davies said he was "absolutely delighted" by the chancellor's announcement.

"Halving the tolls is not as much as some were hoping for but it is certainly a welcome step forward," he said.

Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams said the cut was "pathetic" and called for the tolls to be scrapped.

"The Chancellor is cynically acting as if he is doing commuters a favour, but the fact is that he wants to keep this unfair tax on entering Wales," she said.

Plaid Cymru economy spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth said his party would also aim to remove the tolls.

"The Severn bridges are of strategic importance and it is vital that they operate in a manner which helps rather than hinders Wales' economic development," he said.

Image copyright Welsh government
Image caption A city deal for Cardiff includes funding for a Metro transport network

In his eighth budget, Mr Osborne also said ministers would open discussions on a proposed £500m Swansea Bay City Region investment deal involving ultra-fast broadband and technology companies.

The chancellor added that a north Wales "growth deal" would be explored to ensure the region was "better connected to our Northern Powerhouse" project in England.

On Tuesday, a £1.2bn Cardiff Capital Region deal was signed to pay for transport improvements and other major schemes.

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb said the budget "shows the scale of ambition this government has for Wales".

However, Labour's Shadow Welsh Secretary Nia Griffith said it was "not a budget that had the interests of Wales at its heart".

"George Osborne ducked the big challenges that our economy faces and instead announced that ordinary people in Wales will face yet more cuts," she said.

Jane Hutt, the Welsh Government's finance minister, said the extra funding for Wales "does not reverse six years of austerity".

More on this story