Prime minister Boris Johnson will splash the cash to help the economy recover from the coronavirus crisis.
Admitting that a large number of jobs that existed before the pandemic no longer exist he announced a spending spree and a new ‘opportunity guarantee’.
Promising not to return to austerity that followed the financial crisis he promised the new guarantee would ensure placements or apprenticeships for young people.
Thousands of jobs across the car industry have already been lost as manufacturers including Aston Martin, Bentley and suppliers to the car industry have slashed jobs.
Car dealerships are also shedding staff with up to 20 per cent job losses predicted in the retail motor trade. Many on furlough do not even know their jobs no longer exist.
In a speech in Dudley – a seat the Tories took from Labour – the PM promised to tackle the ‘unresolved challenges’ of the last three decades, highlighting problems in building, social care, transport and the economy.
He said that jobs which existed in January ‘are not coming back’ after the coronavirus crisis, and the furlough scheme which has seen the state pay people’s wages cannot continue forever.
Promising to ‘build, build, build’ his way out of the crisis, Johnson said he would slash ‘newt-counting’ red tape in the planning system to speed up delivery of infrastructure projects and homes.
The announcements included:
- £1.5bn to be allocated this year to hospital maintenance
- More than £1bn for a 10-year school rebuilding programme
- £100m to be spent on road projects
- £900m for ‘shovel-ready’ local growth projects in England during 2020/21
The PM acknowledged ‘it may seem a bit premature to make a speech now about Britain after Covid’ given events in Leicester, where a local lockdown has been imposed.
But ‘we cannot continue simply to be prisoners of this crisis’ and the country ‘needs to be ready for what may be coming’.
He added: ‘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.’
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will set out a plan to support the economy through the first phase of the recovery next week.
Johnson said there had already been a ‘vertiginous drop in GDP’ but indicated he would borrow to fund the recovery.
He added: ‘We will not be responding to this crisis with what people called austerity, we are not going to try to cheese-pare our way out of trouble, because the world has moved on since 2008.’
To improve connectivity around the country, the government will carry out a study of all future road, rail, air and cross-sea links between the four nations of the UK.
The Prime Minister said that ‘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’.
Johnson’s speech, at a technical college in Dudley, was watched by an audience of just 24 people including a handful of journalists.
CBI director-general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said a ‘jobs-first recovery’ and infrastructure investment could help limit the economic damage.
But she added that ‘the reality is that longer-term plans will falter without continued help for firms still in desperate difficulty’.
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