In a wide-ranging speech at Dudley College of Technology, in the West Midlands today (30 June), Boris Johnson vowed to “build, build, build” to soften the economic impact of coronavirus.
The prime minister has promised to act fast to boost spending on infrastructure in the face of the looming recession, as he returned to his manifesto pledge of ‘levelling up’ the UK in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis.
Infrastructure projects in England would be “accelerated” and there would be investment in new academy schools, green buses and new broadband, the PM added.
Projects in the £5bn investment plan include:
A additional £1.5bn for hospital maintenance, enabling hospital building and improving A&E capacity
Confirmation of £100m already announced for 29 road network projects including bridge repairs in Sandwell and improving the A15 in the Humber region
Over £1bn to fund a schools building project
A £12bn affordable homes programme to build 180,000 new affordable homes for ownership and rent over the next eight years
Other projects announced in the government’s Spring Budget, which will now be accelerated, include:
£83m for maintenance of prisons and youth offender facilities, and £60m for temporary prison places
£900m for “shovel ready” local growth projects in England this year and in 2021
£500,000 – £1m for each area in the towns fund to spend on improvements to parks, high street and transport
Plans also include changes to planning laws from September to allow a wider range of commercial building s to change to residential use without the need for a planning application and builders will not need a normal planning application to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings, if they are rebuilt as homes.
Mr Johnson acknowledged jobs might be lost because of the economic hit from the Coronavirus pandemic, but said a new “opportunity guarantee” would ensure every young person had the chance of an apprenticeship or placement.
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