Boris Johnson has announced a spending spree and a new “opportunity guarantee” to help the economy cope with the “aftershock” of the coronavirus crisis, however it has been claimed that this is nowhere near the amount needed to bring the economy back up to speed.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that jobs which existed at the start of the pandemic may be lost forever but said the new guarantee would ensure placements or apprenticeships for young people.
Mr Johnson promised his response would not be a return to the austerity that followed the financial crisis, but instead a stimulus package inspired by US president Franklin D Roosevelt, who led America out of the Great Depression with his New Deal in the 1930s.
Mr Johnson returned to the theme of his general election campaign, pledging to “level up” parts of the country that had been left behind while London and the South East prospered.
The announcements included:
– £1.5 billion to be allocated this year to hospital maintenance;
– More than £1 billion for a 10-year school rebuilding programme;
– £100 million to be spent on road projects;
– £900 million for “shovel-ready” local growth projects in England during 2020/21.
Drop in the ocean
However, the £5 billion infrastructure spend is a ‘drop in the ocean’ that would fill less than half of the potholes in England and Wales, GMB says.
The one-off cost of clearing the backlog on England and Wales’s pothole-ridden local roads is estimated to be £11.14 billion
The cash injection would pay for just 25% of a new nuclear plant, based on the cost of Hinkley Point C.
Jude Brimble, GMB National Secretary, said: “Five billion sounds like a lot – but in infrastructure terms it’s just a drop in the ocean.
“It wouldn’t even meet half the cost of filling in the potholes in England and Wales.
“To get our economy back on its feet we need a proper recovery plan based on sustained infrastructure spending targeted to create and keep good quality jobs.”