The PM has expressed a wish to rebuild a better Britain in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. Although far from over, Boris Johnson has vowed to defeat Covid and build a better country over the next decade in his leader’s speech to the virtual Conservative conference.
He warned the UK could not return to normal after the pandemic, which would be a “catalyst” for major change. “We are resolving not to go back to 2019, but to do better: to reform our system of government; to renew our infrastructure; to spread opportunity more widely and fairly and to create the conditions for a dynamic recovery that is led not by the state but by free enterprise.
Referencing the UK’s recovery from World War Two, he said he wanted to build a “new Jerusalem”. He insisted the pandemic could not be allowed to “hold us back or slow us down” and the country that emerged from the crisis would be very different from the one that preceded it. Insisting that “we will not content ourselves with a repair job” after the pandemic, he said the government would:
- Make the UK a “world leader” in green energy, announcing £160m of investment in ports and factories to increase electricity generation from offshore wind
- “Fix the injustice” of care home funding, adding the crisis had “shone a spotlight” on the plight of the sector
- Boost housebuilding through changes to England’s “sclerotic” planning system, and improving access to low-deposit mortgages for first-time buyers
- Explore greater provision of one-to-one teaching for pupils who had fallen behind during the pandemic, or those of “exceptional abilities”.
Mr Johnson said the pandemic had “forced” the government into massively expanding the role of the state, but warned against drawing the “wrong economic conclusion from this crisis”. He said for Conservatives, the increased bail-outs and subsidies to prop up the economy “go against our instincts,” but there was “simply no reasonable alternative”. To his critics who wanted state subsidies such as the furlough extended he said, We Conservatives believe that way lies disaster, and that we must build back better by becoming more competitive, both in tax and regulation.”
Instead, the PM said that “we must build back better by becoming more competitive, both in tax and regulation.” His speech came in the same week that a new initiative to support jobseekers back into the workplace was launched. Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) is aimed at helping people to redeploy their skills in different parts of the economy and will focus on helping those who have been unemployed for more than three months as a result of the pandemic.
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