PM announces economic recovery strategy based on Build, build, build

The Prime Minister has announced his ‘Build, build, build’ strategy for economic recovery, but there are concerns that women may get left behind.

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The Prime Minister has announced plans to bring forward £5bn of capital investment projects as part of plans to support jobs and aid economic recovery after lockdown.

Most of the investment announced will go towards construction projects, with an announcement on cuts to planning regulations expected to speed up building work. It includes:

  • £1.5bn this year for hospital maintenance, eradicating mental health dormitories, hospital building and improving A&E capacity.
  • £100m this year for 29 road network projects such as bridge repairs, and £10m for development work to unblock the Manchester rail bottleneck.
  • Over £1bn to fund the first 50 projects in a new school rebuilding programme, with construction starting on the first sites from September 2021.
  • £560m and £200m for repairs and upgrades to schools and FE colleges respectively this year.

Money was also advanced for IT and prison maintenance, including £142m for digital upgrades and maintenance to around 100 courts this year, £83m for maintenance of prisons and youth offender facilities and £60m for temporary prison places, creating thousands of new jobs.

Also announced was £900m for so-called ‘shovel ready’ local growth projects in England and £96m to accelerate investment in town centres and high streets through the Towns Fund this year, for instance, through investment in parks, high streets and transport.

The Prime Minister also outlined a “recommitment” to reforest Britain by planting over 75,000 acres of trees every year by 2025 and £40m to boost local conservation projects and create 3,000 jobs, including new Conservation Rangers, and to safeguard a further 2,000 through training young people and others in the community to protect their local environments.

The Prime Minister stated that the investment will “not come at the expense of the resilience of the UK’s public services” and spoke of an “Opportunity Guarantee so that every young person has the chance of apprenticeship or an in-work placement so that they maintain the skills and confidence they need to find the job that is right for them”.

The announcement, titled ‘Build, build, build’, focuses attention on construction, which has one of the biggest gender pay gaps due principally to the lack of women in the sector.  It comes as several research studies have shown it is sectors in which women predominate that are likely to bear the brunt of the jobs cuts. There are worries that women may be left behind in the recovery.

The Institute for Employment Studies also expressed concern about the ability of the package to address the scale of the problem faced by young people. The IES called for the Opportunity Guarantee to open up access to high quality careers and employment support and said the Government should ensure that no young person reaches long-term unemployment without having had the offer of a good quality job, education or training place.

Figures out today from the Office for National Statistics show the UK economy shrank by 2.2% between January and March, the joint largest fall since 1979.

Meanwhile,  the Government has announced that Leicester and its surrounding area will be asked to continue with the current national restrictions for a further two weeks from 4th July as a result of a local increase in coronavirus infections. Non-essential shops that reopened on 15th June will be asked to close from 30th June. Bars, restaurants and hairdressers will not open on 4th July and employers are being told they can re-furlough staff. Schools will close from Thursday 2nd July except to vulnerable children and children of key workers and will not reopen until next term.



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