Boris Johnson has said now is the time to be “ambitious” about the UK’s future, as he set out a post-coronavirus recovery plan.
The PM vowed to “use this moment” to fix longstanding economic problems and promised a £5bn “new deal” to build homes and infrastructure.
Plans set out in the Tory election manifesto would be speeded up and “intensified,” he added.
Labour and the CBI said he was not focusing enough on saving jobs.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said there was “not much of a deal and not much that’s new”.
The BBC’s economic editor, Faisal Islam, said there was “nothing really new” in the plans, but was a pledge from the Treasury to “speed up capital investment that has already been announced and tolerate higher levels of debt”.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak later confirmed he would deliver an economic update on 8 July “setting out the next stage in our plan to secure the recovery”.
The PM’s speech came as new figures showed the UK economy shrank faster than at any time since 1979 between January and March.
In a wide-ranging speech in Dudley, in the West Midlands, Mr Johnson vowed to “build, build, build” to soften the economic impact of coronavirus.
He said the government wanted to continue with its plans to “level up” – one of its main slogans of last December’s election – as “too many parts” of the country had been “left behind, neglected, unloved”.
Infrastructure projects in England would be “accelerated” and there would be investment in new academy schools, green buses and new broadband, the PM added.
Projects in the £5bn investment plan include:
- £1.5bn for hospital maintenance, eradicating mental health dormitories, enabling hospital building and improving A&E capacity – the government said this is “new” money in addition to £1.1bn it announced in its Spring Budget.