Boris Johnson’s government will invest nearly $1.7 billion in building projects and provide two billion pounds in energy efficiency grants in an effort to create jobs and rally the pandemic-hit UK economy.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said 300 “shovel-ready” projects will receive a share of a 900 million pound Getting Building Fund, and a further 360 million pounds will go towards homes on previously developed “brownfield” land.
The UK’s construction industry was stalled by the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year and rebooting the sector could help ease unemployment and generate revenue as the country faces its worst recession for 300 years. The building fund is expected to deliver 45,000 new homes and the brownfield program 26,000, the government said.
“We hope it will deliver a shot in the arm to our economy, at a time when it is so important we generate some optimism and some hope,” local government minister Simon Clarke said on BBC Radio. “It’s an attempt to really accelerate both the volume but also the speed at which projects can be brought forward.”
Among the projects that will receive funding is a new high-speed railway station at Thanet, on England’s south east coast, and a new commercial space in Manchester, north west England. Across all the funded projects, the government estimates the investment will create 85,000 new jobs.
The details of the Green Homes Grant program, helping 600,000 homeowners to make their properties more energy efficient, were announced at the same time. The grants will cover as much as 5,000 pounds of work. Lower income households can claim as much as 10,000 pounds each.
“As we get Britain building we are also laying the foundations for a green recovery by investing in vital infrastructure for local communities, creating jobs and building environmentally-friendly homes,” Jenrick said in an emailed statement.
The program will cover insulation and double-glazing, as well as the installation of ground source heat pumps, energy efficient doors and heat controls. Households will be offered a list of approved tradespeople within their local area to carry out the work, and vouchers will be issued from September.
The grants will “help to protect and create jobs, while also saving people money and cutting carbon,” Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said.