‘Build, build, build’: PM channels 1930’s US ‘new deal’ with coronavirus recovery plan

Home UK ‘Build, build, build’: PM channels 1930’s US ‘new deal’ with coronavirus recovery plan
‘Build, build, build’: PM channels 1930’s US ‘new deal’ with coronavirus recovery plan

Boris Johnson will attempt to mark a new phase in the coronavirus response on Tuesday by setting out plans for an "infrastructure revolution" to create jobs and stimulate an economic recovery.

The prime minister will invoke the 1930s 'new deal' of former US President Franklin D Roosevelt as he delivers a major speech in the West Midlands town of Dudley in the morning.

He will announce £5bn in capital investment to accelerate infrastructure projects this year, including hospital maintenance works, school building and improvements to the road and rail networks.

But a leading think-tank warned tax rises could be needed to foot the bill and Labour said there should be more emphasis on jobs coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far killed more than 43,000 people in the UK.

A national infrastructure strategy focused on the long-term plans for the country's energy networks, transport infrastructure, flood defences and waste handling will be published in the autumn.

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But the prime minister's grand building plan has already been overshadowed by a spike in cases in Leicester, where the infection rate is three times higher than the next highest area, forcing a return to strict lockdown rules.

Image: Boris Johnson will make the pledges in a speech in Dudley

By comparing his approach to that of Roosevelt's investment-based response to the Great Depression of the 1920s, Mr Johnson will seek to underline his rejection of any return of the austerity measures adopted after the 2008 crash.

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According to Downing Street, the prime minister is expected to say: "It sounds positively Rooseveltian. It sounds like a new deal.

"All I can say is that if so, then that is how it is meant to sound and to be, because that is what the times demand.

"A government that is powerful and determined and that puts its arms around people at a time of crisis."

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He will add: "This is a government that is wholly committed not just to defeating coronavirus but to using this crisis finally to tackle this country's great unresolved challenges of the last three decades.

"To build the homes, to fix the NHS, to tackle the skills crisis, to mend the indefensible gap in opportunity and productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK. To unite and level up.

"To that end we will build, build, build. Build back better, build back greener, build back faster and to do that at the pace that this moment requires."

circa 1942: Seated portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), president of the United States (1933-1945), who developed government reforms known as the New Deal, secured establishment of Securities and Exchange Commission (1934), and the Social Security system (1935). (Photo by Stock Montage/Getty Images)
Image: Franklin D Roosevelt's 'new deal' will be invoked

The total £5bn of capital investment set out by the prime minister will include:

  • £1.5bn for hospital maintenance to end the need for mental health dormitories and improve A&E capacity
  • More than £1bn towards 50 projects that form the first part of a ten-year school rebuilding programme
  • £900m for a range of 'shovel ready' local growth projects in England
  • £560m for repairs and upgrades to schools and £200m for further education colleges
  • £142m for upgrading the digital connections of around 100 courts
  • £100m for 29 road network projects, including bridge repairs in Sandwell, West Midlands, and improvements to the ARead More – Source [contf] [contfnew]
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