The UK construction sector is vital for the recovery of the UK economy. The sector accounts for 7.6% of GDP12 and employs over 2.3 million workers spread across every UK region,13 including over 900,000 self-employed workers.

In the Spring 2020 Budget, the government set out plans for £88.5 billion of capital spending in 2020-21 and public investment over the next five years totalling £640 billion. In June, the Prime Minister announced that the government will accelerate over £5 billion of infrastructure projects to support the recovery of the economy and begin to transform UK infrastructure. 

Taken together, the Prime Minister’s infrastructure package and this Plan for Jobs mean that the government is accelerating £8.6 billion of capital spending. This means many projects will start sooner than previously planned, bringing them into 2020-21 and 2021-22, and there will be new programmes of activity supporting jobs and delivering improvements to our infrastructure this year.

As part of the government’s plans to boost productivity through infrastructure, the government will now focus on how we can build better, greener and faster. A new taskforce to oversee this work has been created (‘Project Speed’).

Creating new job opportunities and retaining skills

Construction Talent Retention Scheme – The government is funding a Construction Talent Retention Scheme to support the redeployment of workers at risk of redundancy. This will help retain construction skills and match talented workers to opportunities across the UK.

Office for Talent – The government will create a new Office for Talent based in No.10, with delivery teams across government departments. The Office will focus on attracting, retaining and developing top research and science talent across the UK and internationally.

Delivering a green recovery

Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme – The Clean Growth Strategy17 set out the government’s ambition to halve greenhouse gas emissions from the public sector by 2032. To help achieve this and support economic recovery, the government will invest £1 billion over the next year in a Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme that will offer grants to public sector bodies, including schools and hospitals, to fund both energy efficiency and low carbon heat upgrades.

Green Jobs Challenge Fund – The government will invest up to £40 million in a Green Jobs Challenge Fund for environmental charities and public authorities to create and protect 5,000 jobs in England. The jobs will involve improving the natural environment, including planting trees, restoring habitats, clearing waterways, and creating green space for people and wildlife.

Direct Air Capture – The government will provide £100 million of new funding for researching and developing Direct Air Capture, a new clean technology which captures CO2 from the air.

Automotive Transformation Fund – Building on the announcement last year of up to £1 billion of additional funding to develop and embed the next generation of cutting-edge automotive technologies, the government is making £10 million of funding available immediately for the first wave of innovative R&D projects to scale up manufacturing of the latest technology in 

batteries, motors, electronics and fuel cells. The government is also calling upon industry to put forward investment proposals for the UK’s first ‘gigafactory’ and supporting supply chains to mass manufacture cutting-edge batteries for the next generation of electric vehicles, as well as for other strategic electric vehicle technologies.

Courts sustainability – The government will invest £40 million to improve the environmental sustainability of the courts and tribunals estate in England and Wales, investing in initiatives to reduce energy and water usage.

Housing

Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund – The government will establish a new Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund to help social landlords improve the least energy-efficient social rented homes, starting with a £50 million demonstrator project in 2020-21 to decarbonise social housing. 

Affordable Homes Programme – The government has confirmed that the £12.2 billion Affordable Homes Programme announced at Budget will support up to 180,000 new affordable homes for ownership and rent in England. The £12.2 billion will be spent over five years, with the majority of homes built by 2025-26 and the rest by 2028-29. The Affordable Homes Programme will also include a 1,500 unit pilot of First Homes.

Short-Term Home Building Fund extension – The government will support small- and medium-sized housebuilders that are unable to access private finance by boosting the Short-Term Home Building Fund, providing an additional £450 million in development finance to smaller firms. This is expected to support around 7,200 new homes in England, boosting housing supply and adding resilience to the market. A proportion of this fund will be reserved for firms using innovative approaches to housebuilding such as ‘Modern Methods of Construction’.

Brownfield Housing Fund – The government will allocate a £400 million Brownfield Housing Fund to seven Mayoral Combined Authorities to bring forward land for development and unlock 24,000 homes in England. To allow authorities to begin delivering projects quickly, 90% of the fund will be allocated immediately on a per capita basis, with 10% to be allocated through a competitive process.

Planning reform – The government will introduce new legislation in summer 2020 to make it easier to build better homes in the places people want to live. New regulations will make it easier to convert buildings for different uses, including housing, without the need for planning permission. In July 2020, the government will launch a policy paper setting out its plan for comprehensive reforms of England’s planning system to better support the economy and release more land for housing in areas that need it most.

Accelerating investment

NHS maintenance and A&E capacity – The government will provide £1.05 billion in 2020-21 to invest in NHS critical maintenance and A&E capacity across England.

Modernising the NHS mental health estate – The government will provide up to £250 million in 2020-21 to make progress on replacing outdated mental health dormitories with 1,300 single bedrooms across 25 mental health providers in England.

Health Infrastructure Plan – The government will provide a further £200 million for the Health Infrastructure Plan18 to accelerate a number of the 40 new hospital building projects across England.

Further Education (FE) estate funding – Building on the £1.5 billion commitment for FE capital funding made at Budget 2020, the government will bring forward £200 million to 2020-21 to support colleges to carry out urgent and essential maintenance projects. This will be the first step in the government’s commitment to bring the facilities of colleges everywhere in England up to a good level.

School estate funding – The government will provide additional funding of £560 million for schools in England to improve the condition of their buildings and estates in 2020-21. This is on top of the £1.4 billion already invested in school maintenance this year.

School rebuilding programme – The government has announced over £1 billion to fund the first 50 projects of a new, ten-year school rebuilding programme in England. These projects will be confirmed in the autumn, and further detail on future waves will be confirmed at the Comprehensive Spending Review. Construction on the first sites will begin in September 2021.

Court modernisation – The government will invest £102 million to modernise the court estate in England and Wales. This will include £55 million for essential court maintenance, £37 million for technology to fast-track the digitalisation of the courts, and £10 million for local regeneration projects outside London and the South East which will support employment and economic growth.

Prison and probation estate funding – The government will invest £143 million to improve the prison and probation estate in England and Wales. This will include £20 million to accelerate the digitalisation of prisons, £60 million for 1,000 temporary prison units to expand the capacity of the estate, and £63 million in additional maintenance.

Local infrastructure projects – The government will provide £900 million for shovel-ready projects in England in 2020-21 and 2021-22 to drive local growth and jobs. This could include the development and regeneration of key local sites, investment to improve transport and digital connectivity, and innovation and technology centres. Funding will be provided to Mayoral Combined Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Towns Fund capital acceleration – The government will accelerate £96 million of investment in town centres and high streets through the Towns Fund this year. This will provide up to 101 towns across England with funding for projects such as improvements to parks, high streets, and transport.

Local road maintenance – The government will invest £100 million to deliver 29 local road maintenance upgrades across England in 2020-21, including eight bridge and viaduct repairs and improving local roads. This is in addition to the government’s plans to spend £1.5 billion in 2020-21 on filling potholes, resurfacing roads and improving local highway infrastructure.

Unblocking Manchester’s railways – The government will provide £10 million to develop plans for improving the reliability and capacity of the Manchester rail network.

World-class laboratories – The government will provide a £300 million investment in 2020-21 to boost equipment and infrastructure across universities and institutes across the UK.

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