Boris Johnson has promised to spend billions of pounds in investment to save the economy amid warnings that the country faces the imminent consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Prime Minister has tweeted that he wants to build the way back to economic health. Employing a topical weather metaphor, he said that if Covid-19 was a flash of lightning, we’re about to see the ‘thunderclap of the economic consequences’, but that the Government will be ready to face them.
Earlier in the week, the PM reiterated his general election promise of a ‘levelling up’ agenda, confirming that new schools, hospitals and homes will be built, infrastructure projects completed and jobs created for those whose ‘old jobs’ would disappear.
He emphasised that he’s ‘absolutely not’ returning to the austerity of 10 years ago, in a stout rejection of the former PM David Cameron’s policies during the last recession.
Plans for investment in infrastructure and young adults
Amid warnings of substantial unemployment looming this autumn following the lockdown, Mr Johnson is due to reveal his plans for the economy in a speech in the Midlands on Tuesday. The number of people out of work and claiming work-related benefits in the UK surged by 23pc to 2.8 million in May.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will head a new taskforce which, it is intended, will deliver key projects more quickly. One of the first announcements will be the construction of a number of new prisons.
The PM has said that what’s needed is a very committed, dynamic plan, not only for infrastructure or investment, but also for ensuring that young people are confident of being helped to enter the workplace, maintain their skill levels, continue learning on the job and obtain a highly skilled, highly paid job that will support them for a long time to come.
Accordingly, there will be plans for work placements, support for young people in jobs and apprenticeships, and the assurance that their skills will not become redundant by giving a guarantee of opportunity to all young people.
Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has said the PM’s investment plan will provide money for improving broadband availability and creating new roads. She is keen to get the UK moving again as the country comes out of ‘this awful period of coronavirus, this dreadful disease’.
The Government, she added, is intent on building a road to recovery, a road map focusing on infrastructure now, levelling up across the country, concentrating on roads and broadband, the so-called ‘shovel-ready’ schemes that effectively create jobs and provide services, economic growth and opportunity across the UK.
Investment in three new prisons
Ministers unveiled plans yesterday to build more prisons and are considering handing them over to private operators. The Ministry of Justice announced work was underway to identify sites for three new prisons, one in the North West of England and two in the South East.
The Government has already announced plans to build a new prison near the existing HMP Full Sutton site in East Yorkshire. While it is the Government’s intention that at least one prison will be managed by the public sector, it has raised the possibility of others being operated by the private sector.
Mr Johnson last year pledged to build 10,000 new prison places.
Prisons and Probation Minister, Lucy Frazer, commented that the new prisons would benefit the justice system, create thousands of new jobs and send an unambiguous signal that the Government can and will continue to invest in the vital infrastructure the country needs.
In addition to the new prisons announced yesterday, the construction of a new prison at Wellingborough in Northamptonshire continues and preliminary works have already begun at Glen Parva in Leicestershire.