Prime Minister outlines plan to build new deal
By Rob Freeman | 30th June 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to 'build, build, build" as he outlined the Government's plan to revive the coronavirus-damaged UK economy.
Speaking in Dudley, he outlined £5billion of infrastructure projects including school, homes and roads in a programme he compared to the Depression-era New Deal in the US.
And he stressed the Government planned to press on with projects quickly as part of Project Speed with changes to planning rules.
But opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer said the plan was "not enough".
The Prime Minister said: "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.
He continued: "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 Prime Minister pledged to build "fantastic new homes on brownfield sites and other areas with better transport".
And the PM promised to "address that inter-generational injustice" by helping young people "get on the housing ladder the way their parents and grandparents could".
He did not rule out taxes being increased to pay for the programme.
"I remain absolutely determined to ensure that the tax burden, insofar as we possibly can, is reasonable and that we continue to be a dynamic, competitive, open market economy," he said.
"I think that's what people will want to see."
Among the infrastructure initiatives outlined in the plan are:
- £1.5billion this year for hospital maintenance, building and improving A&E capacity.
- £100million this year for 29 road projects with Junction 10 of the M5 and the A417 missing link near Birdlip among those which could benefit.
- More than £1billion to fund the first 50 projects of a 10-year school rebuilding programme. The projects will be confirmed in the autumn with construction on the first sites from September 2021.
- £560million for upgrades to schools and £200million for further education colleges this year.
- £142million for digital upgrades and maintenance to around 100 courts this year, £83million for maintenance of prisons and youth offender facilities and £60million for temporary prison places.
- £900million for a range of 'shovel ready' local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next.
- A repeated commitment to plant more than 75,000 acres of trees every year by 2025.
- Turning the UK into a UK science super power.
- A "massive new plan for cycle ways across the country".
Changes to planning regulations include a wider range of commercial buildings allowed to change to residential use without the need for a planning application, no need for a normal planning application to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant buildings as homes and property owners able to build additional space above their properties via a fast-track approval process, subject to neighbour consultation
"If we deliver this plan together, then we will together build our way back to health," he said.
"We will not just bounce back, we will bounce forward - stronger and better and more united than ever before."
But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was less than impressed by the announcement.
He said: "He promised a new deal, but there's not much that's new and there's not much of a deal.
"We are facing an economic crisis, the biggest we've seen in a generation, and the recovery needs to match that.
"What has been announced amounts to less than £100 per person and it's the reannouncement of many manifesto pledges and commitments. It's not enough."
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will provide an update on his plans for the economy next week.
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