The Government has said it will 'bring forward' £5bn of pledged infrastructure investment to get started on the post-COVID economic recovery and tackle regional inequalities.
The £5bn is not new money and was set aside in the Conservative pre-election manifesto. However, the rhetoric was expansive, promising no return to austerity but a 'new deal' that would see Britain 'build, build, build'.
Alongside the initial funding, the Government announced a 'Project Speed' agenda combining Number 10 and the Treasury in a taskforce to speed up the delivery and efficiency of national infrastructure and local planning.
Prime minister Boris Johnson promised to work with the devolved administrations and carry out a review to look at how best 'to improve road, rail, air and sea links' between the four UK nations.
Around £100m would be allocated this year for 29 road projects to get Britain moving, 'from bridge repairs in Sandwell to boosting the quality of the A15 in the Humber region'.
A further £10m would be put towards development work to unblock the Manchester rail bottleneck, which will begin this year.
As part of the programme, there would also be £900m for a range of 'shovel ready' local growth projects in England over this year and next.
In addition, £96m will be allocated to town centres and high streets under the Towns Fund this year. This will provide all 101 towns selected for town deals with £500k-£1m to spend on projects such as improvements to parks, high streets, and transport.
Civils contractors hailed the Government's message, saying that investment in infrastructure must form the backbone of the recovery.
Director of external affairs for the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) Marie-Claude Hemming said: 'We welcome the prime minister's announcement that an infrastructure delivery task force, to be chaired by the chancellor, will be created to speed up project delivery.
'We stand ready to support every effort the Government is making to boost the economy. At the same time, we are anticipating major spending announcements to be made in the autumn. We are keen to work with Government to ensure the steps taken are adequate to the mammoth task of re-orientating the economy towards growth.
'There are gains to be made in stamping out waste in project delivery, and ensuring schemes come forward to market more rapidly.
'The Prime Minister won his majority last year by promising an 'infrastructure revolution.' In order to return the UK economy to growth, we must turbocharge our sector, so that our members can build our way to recovery.'