The UK is currently in the midst of another dramatic surge of coronavirus cases. New restrictions have been put into place to attempt to short-circuit the spread of the virus, with some areas of England facing more restrictions than others. Currently, no more than six people are allowed to meet at a time and venues such as pubs have a set closing time. However, many speculate that as cases continue to increase more restrictions will be put in place. In a virtual conference from the Conservative party, who are currently in government, the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson focused on what a post-COVID Britain would look like perhaps in an attempt to instill some hope during the second wave. In a ten-year vision, the Prime Minister made several promises on how the government would ‘build back’ the UK, not just looking to repair what once was, but to improve the country after the devastation of the pandemic.
Of course, many are sceptical as to whether this ‘new Britain’ will be delivered, criticizing the twenty-seven minute speech for being rather vague and not full of much detail. The government delivered a myriad of promises across multiple sectors from green energy to new adjustments in education. In order to ensure that the United Kingdom did not just recover, but evolve. The main policy idea was a move towards wind power, but included others, some of which have already been introduced, such as improving infrastructure, housing and increasing access to education. The BBC reported that the government has pledged:
‘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”.
The speech outlined that first-time buyers would be able to access fixed-rate mortgages with a 5% deposit. Aiming to help young people, between 20-30 to get onto the property ladder, turning ‘generation rent into generation buy.’ He also said there would be a focus on crime, making adjustments such as changing laws to prevent the early release of serious sexual and violent offenders. The Guardian pulled together some of the promises and statements from the speech which included: ‘“We will fix the injustice of care home funding, bringing the magic of averages to the rescue of millions” … “explore the value of one-to-one teaching, both for pupils who are in danger of falling behind, and for those who are of exceptional abilities” … “this government is pressing on with its plan for 48 hospitals – count them”.
Adults would also be given access to education courses, providing they have not already reached a certain level of education already. In order to better equip people with the skills needed to take on skilled work and new jobs in areas such as the newly expanding sector of wind power. Leading onto the Conservative’s new vision for a greener Britain by 2030. The minister stated that a focus on the ‘green industrial revolution’ would create ‘hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jobs.’ He announced that Britain was to become a world leader in ‘low cost power generation’ referring to wind-power which he believes that will be powering every home in the country in the next 10 years. He also referenced a move towards green collared jobs, in wind, solar, hydrogen, carbon capture, carbon storage and retrofitting homes. Other changes included improving infrastructure such as roads and train lines to improve people’s daily lives, calling on the private sector to push these plans forward.
Boris Johnson said in his speech: “in the depths of the Second World War, in 1942 when just about everything had gone wrong, the government sketched out a vision of the post-war new Jerusalem that they wanted to build. And that is what we are doing now – in the teeth of this pandemic. 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.”