Mikael Sandberg, Chairman at VX Fiber
Following on from Boris Johnson’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ speech, Rishi Sunak outlined his summer economic plan in Parliament today. He detailed what he believed was needed to help the UK recover from the harm that has been inflicted by Covid-19. The crux of the message was that we are moving into the next phase – the plan for jobs, based around ‘protect, support and create jobs’ for the UK.
What was also made clear is that the remaining Infrastructure Revolution to rebuild the UK post-pandemic – promised by Boris Johnson – will follow and further details of the exact focus for spending will be made clearer in the Autumn Budget statement.
However, there was a focus on the green economy – and a mention of how the construction industry can help to reignite the economy. Part of the ‘creation of jobs’ includes bringing forward work on £8.8 billion of new infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects. For example, the rebuilding and maintenance of public buildings, including schools and hospitals and making them greener; and roads. There was no mention of broadband and addressing the digital divide by getting the country connected.
We hope that as/when we do enter the rebuild phase, the Chancellor – and the government – does not forget that roads and rail networks may physically connect people, but nothing connects people faster, smarter, and greener than the internet! After all, it is entirely possible to retrofit full fibre services to a number of properties and buildings that have been around for decades. But, if we are kick-starting the construction industry, it is more efficient, cost effective and makes a lot more sense for it to be done as the foundations are being laid. It’s clear the UK government is aware of this. After all, UK Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden announced new legislation to ensure that all new-build homes will come with gigabit-speed broadband, making it a legal requirement for developers to install high-quality digital infrastructure from the outset. And to ensure that broadband companies are on board before the first brick is laid.
So, if we are going to build, build, build, or protect, support, create – it makes sense for us to connect, connect, connect too.
A Plan for Jobs 2020 Speech as delivered by Chancellor Rishi Sunak: