As the Covid news barometer seems to sweep endlessly back and forth leaving a question mark regarding what the actual situation is in the minds of the World’s populations, Governments are turning their attention to the financial fall out.
Hopefully, the major impact will be felt post pandemic, but the invasive erosion of our life styles as a result of covid 19 has already taken a significant fiscal toll. Economic recovery is urgent on the agenda of all developed countries.
The UK’s decision to build our way out of what some say will be the deepest recession in 300 years is a welcome one.
The need for affordable housing is both paramount and well documented but these factors are of little use if we don’t see action. Our educational infrastructure was deemed unfit long before austerity became byword for recovery from the banking fuelled recession. Yet for the last decade, it has suffered from further neglect: lack of funding for maintenance or development has resulted in greater infrastructure degradation and a surplice of buildings deemed unfit for use. The financial consequences of this is that school building repair costs are dramatic swelling at a time when budgets are meagre.
Whilst a £1 billion cash injection is proposed for projects in the ‘future pipeline’ (due to commence September 2021), the Government have promised £560m this year for the most needed repairs. But, according to the National Audit Office, the bill for adequate repairs, over 3 years ago, in February 2017 was already running to an estimated cost of £6.7b billion.
The proposals are met with varying views:
“This major new investment will make sure our schools and colleges are fit for the future, with better facilities and brand new buildings so that every child gets a world-class education.” Investment will be targeted at school buildings in the worst condition across England – including “substantial investment” in the north and the midlands.
The Government is aiming for the projects to utilise modern and green construction methods both to help meet the UK’s net zero emissions target by 2050 and also create highly skilled jobs in the construction sector.
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister
“Replacing and upgrading poor condition school and college buildings with modern, energy efficient designs will give our students and teachers the environment they deserve, and support them to maximise their potential.”
Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary
“Spin over substance”. The funding is nowhere near the £7 billion the National Audit Office has said is needed to repair our schools,”
MP Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat Education Spokeswoman
“Our recovery from the coronavirus crisis needs to match the scale of the challenge.
“It must be built on solid foundations. It has to work for the whole country and end the deep injustices across the country.
“We are on the cusp of one of the biggest economic crises we have ever seen.
“The Government must immediately prioritise protecting people’s lives and livelihoods.
“That’s why Labour has called for a ‘back to work’ Budget that has a laser-like focus on one thing – jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Sir Keir Starmer, Labour Leader.
What is certain is that the need is real, the time is now, there are some things we cannot change but let’s get on with the things we can and build our way back to a better future.