Today I outlined a “New Deal” for Britain which delivers jobs, skills and infrastructure for our country in this unprecedented time.
We are preparing to come gradually out of our national hibernation. Our first priority will always be protecting the public’s health, and it is thanks to the common sense of the British people that we have got the virus under control, meaning we can take cautious steps forward.
This crisis has shown the best of what our country has to offer, with people and businesses coming together in a national effort to help us fight the virus back to levels where we can begin to open up the economy again in a safe way. We are all deeply indebted to our vital carers and key workers.
But it has also shone a light on the longstanding issues that have held us back for years. This crisis has taught us that this country needs to be ready for what may be coming and we need to be able to move with levels of energy and speed that we have not mustered for generations.
We all knew when we went into lockdown that there would be huge economic costs, but it was necessary to protect the public. The unprecedented support that this Government announced to protect jobs and livelihoods has helped to cushion the immediate blow. I believe it is absolutely vital for us now to set out the way ahead so people and businesses can think and plan for the future.
My speech set out our first step in our plans to build back better in the wake of coronavirus, for the benefit of every corner of the United Kingdom.
I am grateful to all colleagues, and our constituents, who have stepped up in this difficult time to support your communities. It is thanks to the amazing officials across Government that we have been able to identify as many projects as possible for us to get started on now, so that we can power ahead with our plans to unite the country and level up every part of the UK.
As announced at the Budget, we are tripling the average amount we’ve invested over the last forty years in real terms. We will invest more than £600 billion in our future prosperity and my speech set out how we will bring forward £5 billion of capital investment projects, supporting jobs and the economic recovery, including:
£1.5 billion this year for hospital maintenance. This will improve patient care, make sure NHS hospitals can deliver world-leading services and reduce the risk of coronavirus infections.
£100 million this year for 29 projects in our road network to get Britain moving, in addition to £10 million for development work to unblock the Manchester rail bottleneck.
Over £1 billion to fund the first 50 projects of a new, ten-year school rebuilding programme, starting from 2020-21.
£560 million and £200 million for repairs and upgrades to schools and FE colleges respectively this year.
£142 million for digital upgrades and maintenance to around 100 courts this year, £83 million for maintenance of prisons and youth offender facilities, and £60 million for temporary prison places.
£900 million for a range of ‘shovel ready’ local growth projects in England, as well as £96 million to accelerate investment in town centres and high streets through the Towns Fund this year. This will provide all 101 towns selected for town deals with £500,000-£1 million to spend on projects such as improvements to parks, high streets, and transport.
This investment will go some way to improving the lives of our constituents as we recover from coronavirus. Of course, it comes on top of the unprecedented support we have already provided to protect jobs and livelihoods, adding up to over £100 billion since the pandemic began.
To deliver the housing our country badly needs, I have announced radical reforms to the planning system to speed up development. My colleague the Chancellor will be leading work to break through the barriers that have slowed down the delivery of public infrastructure projects of all kinds – whether those barriers happen to be slow and cumbersome procurement processes, or weeks of waiting to assess the local great crested newt population. These changes will make it easier to build the right homes for people in the right places.
I have also announced an Opportunity Guarantee for young people, so that they can be assured they will have access to work or training. It is vital that we stop the economic impact of coronavirus from scarring the lives of the next generation irreparably. The Chancellor will set out further details on the scheme next week.
With an eye to the future, we can rebuild Britain as a cleaner, greener and more prosperous nation outside of the EU. We can lead the world in life sciences, space satellites, and AI, including for example developing the world’s first net zero long haul passenger plane. We will fully grasp the opportunities that leaving the EU presents.
There is still difficult, painstaking work to be done to open our economy safely and sustainably, to avoid a return of this virus. But this Government has a vision and a plan to reopen, and to deliver on the promises we have made to the British people in the election.
The Chancellor will unveil more of this plan next week, and we will use the forthcoming Spending Review and Autumn Budget to set the direction for the rest of this parliament.
We will address the longstanding challenges this country faces – the issues others have ducked. We will fix our social care system with our three-point plan, set out our National Infrastructure Strategy, reform Further Education and skills provision, bring forwards our plans for devolution and levelling up, and progress our public services reform agenda - including reforming Whitehall to improve its performance and delivery. All of these changes will make life better for the people of this great country and unleash Britain’s potential.
Though the virus has thrown every kind of challenge at us, our resolve to level up and unite this country is only strengthened, and though we must go with care, it is with a clear vision for a better Britain.
The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP