Rebecca Gaskill on Building Back Better: “PM needs to up his game”


Boris Johnson has been using a diverse range of buzz words potentially lacking in substance to describe his plan for a ‘green recovery’. The prime example of this is his Build Back Better campaign as part of his coronavirus recovery plan.

The Build Back Better projects in the £5bn investment plan include: £1.5bn for hospital maintenance, £100m for 29 road network projects, £500,000 to £1m for improvements to parks, high street, and transport.

However, there have been a number of criticisms of these suggestions the first being the roads programme, which will increase emissions.

His ‘new deal’ is planned to emulate the New Deal policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt who after the Wall Street Crash launched a large and expensive investment programme. Boris Johnson aims to put £5bn towards accelerating infrastructure projects as part of the government’s economic growth strategy.

This is timely as the UK economy shrunk by a record 20.4% as a result of coronavirus and the lockdown measures in April.

Rebecca Gaskill, ICON’s Policy and Business Impacts Analyst

The Prime Minister is expected to deliver economic revival alongside his green recovery. He has attempted to do this by pledging to put jobs, infrastructure and cutting carbon emissions at the centre of the government’s economic growth. However, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the PM’s plans fell “woefully short” of an economic recovery package recently announced in Germany.

The green measures introduced contained £100m to research and develop direct air capture and the insultation improvement scheme with a limit of £5,000 for homeowners. However, Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association, has warned that the government had a very poor record on energy efficiency retrofit programmes.

The view that the approach isn’t good enough has been echoed by other commentators. Despite making a further £1bn available to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings and supporting 140,000 green jobs.

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said the Chancellor’s announcements were “dwarfed by green recovery commitments in Germany and France”.

The perceived general consensus is that the Prime Minister isn’t delivering the green recovery that was promised and that he needs to up his game to deliver on his promises for the UK’s economic revival and make a green recovery a priority.