Boris Johnson set out his “New Deal” investment plan for the country yesterday, in which he pledged to “build, build, build” Britain’s way out of the coronavirus economic crisis. Here’s what’s been promised:
The government is bringing forward £5bn worth of capital investment projects to support the country’s economic recovery, with money set aside for hospitals, roads, schools, town centres and the justice system. This includes:
- £1.5bn for hospital building, improving A&E capacity and phasing out mental health dormitories.
- £100m for 29 road projects across the UK, including bridge repairs and highway improvements, plus an extra £10m to improve rail infrastructure in Manchester.
- £1bn towards the first 50 projects of the government’s 10-year school rebuilding programme – sites will be confirmed in the autumn, with construction on set to start from September 2021.
- £142m for digital upgrades and maintenance to around 100 courts this year, plus £83m for maintenance of prisons and £60m for temporary prison places.
A new Infrastructure Delivery Taskforce is to be established, nicknamed ‘Project Speed’. It will be led by chancellor Rishi Sunak and will explore ways to cut down the time it takes to develop, design and deliver infrastructure projects.
The government will also publish a National Infrastructure Strategy in the autumn, setting out a plan for core economic infrastructures such as energy networks, road and rail, flood defences and waste.
It’s also been announced that funding will be brought forward to help accelerate infrastructure projects in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
£10m in funding is being made available to support research and development of electric batteries and fuel cells for vehicles. Extra cash is also being promised to attract investment in so-called ‘gigafactories’ to mass-produce electric vehicle components, and to help set up factory sites.
The UK will also aim to produce the world’s first zero-emission long haul passenger aircraft. And up to £100m is being put towards research and development of carbon capture technologies.
Plus, a £40m Green Recovery Challenge Fund has been promised to help mitigate biodiversity loss and tackle climate change via local conservation. The government also plans to plant 75,000 acres of trees every year by 2025.
To speed up home building and aid economic recovery, the government is promising to shake up planning rules.
Under the proposals, commercial properties can be repurposed more easily to accommodate different types of business without the need for planning applications. Commercial buildings will also be able to switch to residential use without the same red tape.
Planning permission will no longer be required for the demolition of vacant buildings if they are to be rebuilt as homes, and to build additional space above a property provided neighbours are consumed.
The prime minister also announced that work will begin to look at how land owned by the government can be managed more effectively, or released so it can be put to better use.
£12bn has been pledged for an affordable homes programme to build 180,000 properties for ownership and rent over the next eight years.
This will include a 1,500-unit pilot of "first homes", which will be sold to first time buyers at a 30% discount.
And £400m from the Brownfield Land Fund has been allocated to the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Liverpool City Region, Sheffield City Region, North of Tyne and Tees Valley to support the construction of around 24,000 homes.
The Home Building Fund will also receive a £450m boost, helping smaller developers access finance for new housing developments. This extra cash is expected to deliver 7,200 new homes.
The government has promised it will take steps to guarantee and enhance the UK's internal market and find new ways to invest in devolved nations. This includes its plans to bring forward funding to boost infrastructure projects.
There will also be a "connectivity review" looking at how best to improve road, rail, air and sea links between the four nations.