Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a “New Deal” to fuel economic recovery across the UK through upgrading Britain’s infrastructure and skills.
In a speech to the West Midlands, the Prime Minister underlined his commitment to ‘build, build, build’ in the wake of coronavirus, for the benefit of every corner of the country.
Prime Minister’s New Deal
“It sounds positively Rooseveltian. It sounds like a New Deal. All I can say is that if so, then that is how it is meant to sound and to be, because that is what the times demand – a government that is powerful and determined and that puts its arms around people at a time of crisis,” said Johnson.
“This is a government that is wholly committed not just to defeating coronavirus but to using this crisis finally to tackle this country’s great unresolved challenges of the last three decades.
“To build the homes, to fix the NHS, to tackle the skills crisis, to mend the indefensible gap in opportunity and productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK. To unite and level up.”
The Prime Minister added: “To that end we will build build build. Build back better, build back greener, build back faster and to do that at the pace that this moment requires.”
£5bn of capital investment projects
The Government is bringing forward £5bn of capital investment projects, supporting jobs and the economic recovery, including:
- £1.5bn this year for hospital maintenance, eradicating mental health dormitories, enabling hospital building, and improving A&E capacity. This will improve patient care, make sure NHS hospitals can deliver world-leading services and reduce the risk of coronavirus infections.
- £100m this year for 29 projects in the UK’s road network, from bridge repairs in Sandwell to boosting the quality of the A15 in the Humber region. Plus £10m for development work to unblock the Manchester rail bottleneck, which will begin this year.
- Over £1bn to fund the first 50 projects of a new, ten-year school rebuilding programme, starting from 2020-21. These projects will be confirmed in the Autumn, and construction on the first sites will begin from September 2021.
- £560m and £200m for repairs and upgrades to schools and FE colleges respectively this year.
- £142m for digital upgrades and maintenance to around 100 courts this year, £83m for maintenance of prisons and youth offender facilities, and £60m for temporary prison places, creating thousands of new jobs.
- £900m for a range of ‘shovel ready’ local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next, as well as £96m to accelerate investment in town centres and high streets through the Towns Fund this year. This will provide all 101 towns selected for town deals with £500k-£1m to spend on projects such as improvements to parks, high streets, and transport.
National Infrastructure Strategy
To support the ambition to ‘build build build’, in the Autumn the Government will also publish a National Infrastructure Strategy which will set a clear direction on core economic infrastructure, including energy networks, road and rail, flood defences and waste. It also intends to bring forward funding to accelerate infrastructure projects in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The Prime Minister also recommitted to reforest Britain by planting over 75,000 acres of trees every year by 2025. He is also set to pledge £40m to boost local conservation projects and create 3,000 jobs, including new Conservation Rangers, and safeguard a further 2,000 – training young people and others in the community to protect their local environments.
Pic credit – Michael Tubi – Shutterstock.com