Johnson pledges spending blitz to heal economy after Covid-19

Boris Johnson has promised an infrastructure spending blitz to revitalise the battered UK economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister said he is preparing for an effort comparable to Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal following the Great Depression in the US in the 1930s.

As the first phase, as the Government is setting out details of a major schools rebuilding and refurbishment programme.

Mr Johnson is expected to make further commitments in a keynote speech on Tuesday.

Coronavirus
The Prime Minister has unveiled a major schools rebuilding programme (Steve Parsons/PA)

Speaking on Times Radio, he said: “This is the time to invest in infrastructure, this is the time to make those long-term decisions for the good of the country.

“You have to be careful, and the Chancellor will be setting out our plans in the Spending Review in the autumn.

“But, in the end, what you can’t do at this moment is go back to what people called ‘austerity’ – it wasn’t actually austerity but people called it austerity – and I think that would be a mistake.

“I think this is the moment for a Rooseveltian approach to the UK.”

As part of the plan, the Government is making a 10-year undertaking to improve school facilities, along with sprucing up classrooms currently in use.

Downing Street said a £1 billion cash injection would see construction work start on the first 50 projects as soon as September 2021.

Another £560 million will go towards school repairs in this financial year, while further education colleges will see £200 million of the £1.5 billion promised by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his spring Budget to transform college estates over the next five years fast-tracked so that work can be brought forward.

Mr Johnson acknowledged that coronavirus has been a “disaster” for the UK but insisted the country will pull through.

“This has been a disaster, let’s not mince our words, this has been an absolute nightmare for the country,” he said.

“The country has gone through a profound shock. But in those moments you have the opportunity to change and to do things better.”

He added: “So what we’re going to be doing in the next few months is really doubling down on our initial agenda, which was all about investment, if you remember, in infrastructure, in education, in technology, to bring the country together.”

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