Boris Johnson will today pledge £5bn in fast-tracked infrastructure investment as he promises to “build, build, build” the UK’s economy out of the coronavirus crisis.
Drawing inspiration from US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “new deal” after the great depression of the 1930s, the Prime Minister will seek to create jobs and drive investment through a nationwide building campaign.
According to his office, Johnson will say: “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 promise to bring forward investment into schools, hospitals, and the UK’s road and rail network comes after the coronavirus pandemic forced vast swathes of the country’s economy to shut down for the best part of three months.
Despite the enormous financial cost of the pandemic, Johnson’s speech will show that the prime minister is still committed to the levelling-up agenda that was a major focus of last year’s election campaign.
He has also vowed not to repeat the austerity measures which his Conservative predecessors put in place after the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
Johnson will say: “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”.
It is unclear whether additional money will be released to fund the projects, with chancellor Rishi Sunak due to reveal details later in the week.
The UK has an extensive pipeline of large infrastructure projects whose futures remain uncertain, including the Heathrow airport expansion and the HS2 rail link, which prove how challenging infrastructure spending can be.
However, Leo Quinn, chief executive of construction giant Balfour Beatty, welcomed the Johnson’s commitments, saying:
“As well as stimulating regional and national economies, it will generate vast employment opportunities across the country and help provide our younger generations with employable skills.
“Without this, following the fall-out from COVID-19, we could see widespread structural unemployment issues”.