Boris Johnson unveils post-lockdown recovery plan

Boris Johnson today unveiled a £5bn recovery plan this financial year to brace Britain for the "thunderclap" of coronavirus. The Prime Minister admitted the virus was still "circling like a shark in the water" - but said if he didn't act now, the economy faces collapse.

 

Unveiling money for roads, town centres, schools and hospitals, he said the economic crisis we face now is worse than the global crash of 2008. He also vowed to strip away planning laws, designed to protect communities from inappropriate buildings, to stop "newt-counting" and "scythe through red tape and get things done.”

Johnson warned the furloughing of 9.3 million jobs at a cost of £25bn "cannot go on forever" - and admitted "jobs that many people had in January are not coming back - or at least not in that form."

With Chancellor Rishi Sunak giving a statement next week, the PM failed to promise a pay rise for the NHS. And he didn't rule out tax rises - or indeed tax cuts - to pay for the recovery.

"We're waiting as if between the flash of lightning and the thunderclap with our hearts in our mouths for the full economic reverberations to appear," he said. "And so we must use this moment now."

Johnson pledged £5bn on capital investment projects, supporting jobs and economic recovery this financial year. In comparison, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £640bn of gross capital investment in the UK’s roads, railways, schools, hospitals and power networks over the next five years at the Budget in March.The furlough scheme has already cost more than £25bn and the three main Covid-19 loan schemes for businesses have already cost more than £40bn.

On top of that, the PM also promised £12bn for affordable homes. But this is the same cash that was already promised in the March budget.

The Prime Minister will also change the rules to allow commercial properties including office blocks to be converted into flats more easily. And there will be a 1,500-unit pilot of ‘First Homes’ - houses that will be sold to first time buyers at a 30% discount which "will remain in perpetuity".

What is the Prime Minister promising?

  • £1.5bn this year for hospital maintenance' including to scrap mental health dorms and improve A&E capacity.
  • '£100m this year for 29 road network projects' including bridge repairs in Sandwell, the A15 in the Humber and £10m for "development work" to unblock the Manchester rail bottleneck.
  • £1bn to fund first 50 projects in a ten-year school rebuilding programme. Projects will be confirmed this autumn, and spadework will begin in September 2021 - but not on all 50.
  • '£560m and £200m for repairs and upgrades to schools and FE colleges respectively this year'.
  • '£142m for digital upgrades and maintenance to around 100 courts this year'
  • '£83m for maintenance of prisons'
  • '£60m for temporary prison places'
  • '£900m for a range of ‘shovel ready’ local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next'
  • '£96m for the Towns Fund this year' - between £500,000 to £1m for each of the 101 towns selected for town deals with £500k-£1m to spend on projects such as improvements to parks, high streets, and transport. The £3.6bn Towns Fund was already set up before today, this is just cash to be spent from it.
  • 'Further projects to be announced in due course'

 

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