LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out plans on Tuesday to try to spur Britain’s economy, promising to fast-track 5 billion pounds ($6.15 billion) of infrastructure investment and to “build, build, build” out of the coronavirus crisis.
In a speech, Johnson set out a vision where the government could cut through red tape to speed up construction and infrastructure projects and kick-start the economy to “level up” wealth and opportunity in Britain.
Much of the spending will be targeted at northern and central England, where many voters who had traditionally supported the opposition Labour Party backed the governing Conservatives at last year’s election.
Here are some of the areas where Johnson outlined his plans. Several have been announced previously but are being accelerated.
Johnson unveiled new planning rules on Tuesday to boost the number of homes and allow commercial premises to be repurposed more easily.
He pledged 1.5 billion pounds this year for hospital maintenance, eradicating mental health dormitories, enabling hospital building and improving Accident and Emergency capacity.
ROADS AND RAIL
Johnson pledged 100 million pounds this year for 29 projects in the road network, from bridge repairs in Sandwell in the Midlands to boosting the quality of the A15 in the Humber region of eastern England. Plus 10 million pounds for development work to unblock the Manchester rail bottleneck, which will begin this year.
Johnson pledged more than 1 billion pounds to fund the first 50 projects of a new, 10-year school rebuilding programme, starting from 2020-21. These projects will be confirmed in the Autumn, and construction on the first sites will begin from September 2021.
He also announced 560 million pounds and 200 million pounds for repairs and upgrades to schools and further education colleges respectively this year.
“SHOVEL READY” PROJECTS
He pledged 900 million pounds for a range of “shovel ready” local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next, as well as 96 million pounds 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 between 500,000 and 1 million pounds to spend on projects such as improvements to parks, high streets, and transport.
“We will … build back greener and build a more beautiful Britain,” he said.
Johnson also recommitted to reforest Britain by planting over 75,000 acres of trees every year by 2025.
He pledged 40 million pounds to boost local conservation projects and create 3,000 jobs, including new Conservation Rangers, and safeguard 2,000 – training young people and others in the community.
In his speech, he also said Britain should aim at producing the world’s first zero emission long-haul jet plane, referred to 4,000 new zero-carbon buses and a new plan for cycle ways across the country.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by William James and Stephen Addison)