UK to ‘build its way back to health’
By Mike Hayes29 June 2020
UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson has set out a multi-billion-euro recovery plan for the country, including the renovation of the country’s schools and hospitals.
Almost €830 million has been earmarked for immediate repair and upgrade work in schools and colleges, with a further €1.1 billion to be spent on 50 new school building projects next year.
The education spend will then continue with a 10-year plan set to be announced as part of the government’s plans to build its way out of the recession brought about by the coronavirus crisis.
The package adds to the already-announced €110 billion pot set aside for spending on infrastructure, within a streamlined planning system and under the auspices of the government’s new Project Speed taskforce.
Johnson said in a tweet “We want to build our way back to health” and told the Mail on Sunday, “We’re going to need a very committed, dynamic plan. Not just for infrastructure, not just for investment, but making sure that young people have the confidence they need that we are going to help them get into a place of work, to keep their skills up, to keep learning on the job and get a highly paid, highly skilled job that will stand them in good stead for a long time to come.”
The statements come as it emerges the UK’s debt – more than €2.1 trillion – now exceeds the size of the country’s economy.
In response to the developments announced by the Prime Minister, Rob Oliver, Chief Executive, Construction Equipment Association, said, “The promised escalation of investment in infrastructure is exactly what we called for in our recent letter to the Chancellor. Priming the construction sector will help avoid unnecessary redundancies and provide us with better roads, school and hospital buildings and more. The real prize is if this leads to the adoption of the newest technologies so that we do indeed “build back better”. CEA members have a great part to play in this with the new generation of environmentally friendly machines with their revolutionary digital systems that ensure that they are operated in the most efficient and productive way.
He added, “The adoption of the newest technologies does, of course, require new investment from plant hire companies and contractors. Like most businesses they have been flattened by the COVID-19 emergency, so we also call for an imaginative approach from the Treasury to allow our customers to renew their plant and equipment with confidence. This can be done through a combination of additional tax allowances on capital expenditure and a scrappage scheme to add some “vroom” to Project Speed”.
Dave Bennett, MD of Topcon Positioning Great Britain, also responded to the plans, saying, “Dualling the A1 to Scotland has been on the cards since 1992, 40 new hospitals have been discussed for years, but now it seems Boris is allowing more investment and less red tape. Project Speed could be the chance for us to take control of our industry and prove our worth to help accelerate recovery. Digital tools, a focus on upskilling and inspiring the next generation will all help, but we must change our mindset from “what do I get from this” to “how can we do this best” to succeed. “