Coronavirus: Government issues urgent call for job creation schemes

Infrastructure schemes could create jobs to stimulate the economy. Photo: Getty
Infrastructure schemes could create jobs to stimulate the economy. Photo: Getty

A government stimulus plan is calling on elected mayors and business leaders for short term job creation ideas to kick start the economy.

These "shovel-ready" projects could help the country recover from the economic damage of COVID-19 lockdown and be wrapped up within 18 months.

A letter by housing secretary Robert Jenrick, seen by the Financial Times, has been sent to mayors and 38 local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) responsible for economic growth.

Whitehall is asking for urgent responses no later than 18 June.

Schemes previously pitched to the government will be considered along with "shovel-ready capital projects that can be delivered within 18 months,” the letter said.

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Any new projects would have to deliver two key objectives - driving up economic growth and jobs, and supporting green recovery. They would also have to be "value for money", said the letter.

Initiatives that could be funded include road, rail and cycling infrastructure, broadband improvements, modernising town centres and skills and training courses.

Many cities have already proposed major works such as the £1.5bn ($1.9bn) Bee Network of 1,800 miles of cycleways and walking routes in Greater Manchester.

The housing ministry said: “The government is committed to levelling up and supporting the economy to recover from COVID-19. The secretary of state has been clear that this invitation for proposals at this time does not amount to a commitment to accelerate or offer new funding. At this stage, we are keen to simply to understand the options available across the country.”

It is now believed that the Conservative manifesto pledge of £100bn additional capital investment over the five-year parliament could be spent earlier than expected.

The government is also setting up a Shared Prosperity Fund to replace the £2.1bn a year the UK received from EU structural funds prior to Brexit.

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