New deal: Boris Johnson pledges to ‘build build build’

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New deal
© Andrew Parsons/ i-Images

Prime minister Boris Johnson will today (30 June) announce a ‘New Deal’ to ‘build build build’ putting jobs and infrastructure at the heart of the government’s economic growth strategy

In a speech in the West Midlands, the Boris Johnson will underline his commitment to ‘build, build, build’ in order to level-up Britain’s infrastructure and skills to fuel economic growth across the UK.

The Prime Minister is expected to say: “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….

“…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.

“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.”

The PM will bring forward £5bn of capital investment projects, supporting jobs and the economic recovery, this includes:

  • £1.5bn this year for hospital maintenance, eradicating mental health dormitories, enabling hospital building, and improving A&E capacity.
  • £100m this year for 29 projects in the road network to get Britain moving, 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.
  • £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.

Infrastructure revolution

Johnson will hail an “infrastructure revolution” – building infrastructure, building jobs and building healthcare through a bold programme of national renewal, uniting and levelling up the UK.

He will say: “Too many parts of this country have felt left behind, neglected, unloved, as though someone had taken a strategic decision that their fate did not matter as much as the metropolis.

“And so I want you to know that this government not only has a vision to change this country for the better, we have a mission to unite and level up – the mission on which we were elected last year.”

‘Build build build’

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.

The government also intends to bring forward funding to accelerate infrastructure projects in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – it will work with the devolved administrations to identify where it can get spades in the ground, build our communities, and create jobs faster for citizens across the United Kingdom.

To protect the UK’s natural infrastructure, the prime minister will recommit 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 3000 jobs, including new Conservation Rangers, and safeguard a further 2,000 – training young people and others in the community to protect their local environments.

The prime minister will conclude: “If we deliver this plan together, then we will together build our way back to health.

“We will not just bounce back, we will bounce forward – stronger and better and more united than ever before.”

Repair, repair, repair

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The crushing impact of the coronavirus on builders’ workloads, enquiries and employment, as set out by the latest State of Trade data, sends a clear message to the government that it is right to invest in construction.

“The repair, maintenance and improvement (RM&I) sector contributes 32% towards construction output so it’s important this isn’t overlooked in terms of investment.

“The pandemic has placed historic constraints on local builders’ ability to work, train, and earn a living. The RM&I market, the bread and butter for most small builders, has been the hardest hit. Almost half a million people left the sector as a result of the 2008-9 financial crash.

“The FMB is determined to avoid a repeat of this devastating blow to livelihoods and the building industry.”

Berry concluded: “The prime minister must use his speech today to inject confidence back into the RM&I market with a cut in VAT. Investment in infrastructure should mean housing too, making it easier for SME builders to build out small sites and bring empty homes back into use.

“We need a strategy for supporting the retention and recruitment of apprentices into the construction industry. Without these individuals, an infrastructure revolution will not be possible. In all of this we cannot forget the quality and sustainability of our buildings.

“A national retrofit strategy will help boost market confidence, and unleash the army of local builders waiting to improve the energy efficiency of our homes.”

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