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CBI lays out recovery plan

12 June 2020

CBI lays out recovery plan

There is obviously much debate about the nature of the economic recovery once a semblance of normality has been restored post-pandemic.

It is a sobering prospect. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recently suggested that Britain could lose more than a tenth of its national output in 2020, and that one in ten workers could be left unemployed.

Yesterday, Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) sent a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggesting the economic priorities for recovery.

In it, she states that “the UK will only build back fast and better through a market-driven plan that supports sustainable growth,” and continues: “A world class test and trace system is the foundation for a UK that is safe to visit, invest in, work and study in. Two other priorities also stand out: jobs, especially for young people; and investment.”

Amongst Dame Carolyn’s suggestions are a focus on the green economy to create new jobs and a sustainable future, making every home a green home, creating an infrastructure for electric vehicles and accelerating the gigabit broadband rollout nationwide. She also argues for a future skills fund to support areas with high jobs potential such as digital, low carbon and health.

Such a radical investment programme would obviously boost construction and the hire industry, given the scale and long-term nature of the projects involved. It would also help to create a generation of young people eager to embrace change and explore new green strategies to protect our environment.

While the Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented in the scale of its global impact, some comparisons might be drawn from Britain’s recovery in the 1930s. While many suffered dire poverty, with little or no state welfare support, investment in new industries and construction spearheaded a resurgence. Then, the new activities included manufacture of cars, textiles and chemicals - in the future these could be green vehicles, telecoms and energy infrastructure. Regarding consruction, the HS2 high speed railway and other transport projects will provide great demand for equipment, and for decades the UK has not been building enough new homes.

Dame Carolyn had been due to leave the CBI this September, but decided to stay until November to help shape the organisation’s Covid response. She has long spoken of her belief in business to create fulfilling jobs and improve quality of life, and she has highlighted the ways in which businesses and trade unions have already acted positively during the crisis.

The debate about the recovery - and its cost - will doubtless be diverse, but actions will need to be taken swiftly and in a planned way. If construction and a focus on green technology are at the heart of them, the benefit to the hire industry will be immense.

(Photo by Daniel Frese from Pexels)

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