Not Quite FDR
Jane Embury explains why a UK government commitment to build its way out of recession falls far short of Boris Johson's pledge of a Rooseveltian New Deal.
Although the government of the United Kingdom’s recent pledge to "build, build, build" is to be welcomed, it exposes a fundamental gap between rhetoric and real commitment.
The prime minister has promised to construct hundreds of thousands of new homes across the country and to invest in major infrastructure projects.
The prime minister has also likened his £5 billion pledge to US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1930's New Deal, which helped lift the United States from the Great Depression.
However, if a recent Real Face of Construction 2020 report from the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) is anything to go by, the government is continuing to underestimate the importance of the construction sector which CIOB research suggests accounts for around 6 per cent of UK economic output - or double the official figure recorded by the UK Office of National Statistics in 2019.
The CIOB also estimates there are 2.3 million construction jobs in the UK which would account for 7.1 per cent of the total workforce; even before including many hundreds of thousands of other people employed within other, related businesses (from architects and engineers to companies such as builders’ merchants and plant hire providers).
The prime minister has announced he wants to use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity "to build the homes, to fix the NHS, to tackle the skills crisis, to mend the indefensible gap in opportunity and productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK".
But at Wrightstyle, we believe the government's pledge simply doesn't go far enough to fix an economy that shrank by 20 per cent in April 2020 alone.
As a sector, we have the skills and capacity to create the jobs and new opportunities that this country so badly needs.
But the government needs to invest on a sufficient scale to turn its promises into promises fulfilled.