Boris Johnson’s £5BILLION promise: PM puts forward radical ‘new deal’ for COVID recovery
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And he will urge the country to pull together to “build, build, build” its way out of the economic downturn caused by weeks of lockdown. “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,” the Prime Minister is expected to say. Mr Johnson will travel to Dudley, in the West Midlands, to make his keynote speech on the UK’s future, deep in the so-called “Blue Wall” territory captured from Labour at last year’s general election.
His address will evoke the spirit of the “New Deal” policies of President Franklin D Roosevelt that sought to revive the US economy from the 1930s Depression with investment in major public works.
It follows warnings unemployment could soar to more than three million – the highest level since the 1980s – in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown.
Mr Johnson will 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 – 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 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.”
Mr Johnson will say the Government is rushing forward capital investment projects to support jobs and stimulate recovery in the NHS, roads, schools, town centres and criminal justice.
The key projects include: £1.5billion this year for hospital maintenance, new hospital buildings, improving NHS services and eradicating outdated “dormitory” accommodation for mental health patients.
- £100million for 29 road projects including bridge repairs in Sandwell, West Midlands, upgrading the A15 in the Humber area and £10million to begin freeing the Manchester rail bottleneck.
- £1billion for the first 50 projects in a 10-year school rebuilding programme. Details will be set out in a Treasury spending review in the autumn with work starting in September 2021. An extra £560million and £200million will repair and upgrade to schools and further education colleges.
- £142million to fund digital upgrades and maintenance on around 100 courts this year, £83million for prisons and youth offender centres and £60million for temporary prison places.
- £900million for “shovel ready” growth projects in England this year and 2021, plus £96million to speed investment in town centres and high streets through the “Towns Fund” this year.
Mr Johnson’s New Deal will focus on previously neglected regions and communities far beyond London.
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.
“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.”
Mr Johnson will commit to a National Infrastructure Strategy this autumn, with further ambitions for energy networks, road and rail links, flood defences and waste facilities.
Ministers will step up infrastructure projects in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and Mr Johnson will order a review on how to improve road, rail, air and sea links throughout the UK.
He will emphasise his commitment to making Britain “greener”, with plans to reforest areas by planting more than 75,000 acres of trees every year by 2025.
And the Prime Minister will pledge £40million to boost conservation projects and create 3,000 environmental jobs including “conservation rangers”.
He told Times Radio yesterday that he was optimistic about Britain bouncing back from the coronavirus crisis but warned the country was facing a huge challenge.
He said: “We’ve had eight million people furloughed…we have seen a big fall in our GDP [Gross Domestic Product] and everybody understands that as we come out of it there’s going to be some bumpy times.
“But the UK is an amazingly dynamic, resilient economy. And we are going to come through very, very well indeed. But we’ll have to work at it.”
Mr Johnson insisted he did not want to return to austerity measures used to recover from the 2008 financial crisis. He said: “Obviously you have to be careful. But in the end, what you can’t do at this moment is go back to what people called austerity…I think that would be a mistake.
“This is a moment now to give our country the skills, the infrastructure, the long term investment that we need.”
Mr Johnson’s speech comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to unveil measures to support jobs.
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said: “We urgently need the Conservatives to abandon their ‘one size fits all’ approach to the economic support schemes, which will inevitably lead to additional unemployment.”
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