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Sajid Javid targets rural vote with plan to boost roads, buses and broadband

3 min read

Sajid Javid is to unveil plans to boost road networks, bus services and the availability of high-speed broadband across the country.

In an apparent pitch for rural votes in the upcoming election, the Chancellor will use his speech at Tory conference in Manchester to announce the first phase of the Government’s £25 billion infrastructure delivery plan.

Mr Javid will admit that "successive governments failed to invest enough for the long-term", leaving a huge backlog of vital work.

The infrastructure package will include 14 new local road schemes, a £220 million scheme to transform bus services, and new plans to invest £5 billion to support the roll-out of full-fibre, 5G and other gigabit-capable internet networks in the hardest to reach 20% of the country.

Mr Javid is expected to say: “This government is going to build Britain’s future, and bring in a new infrastructure revolution.

“Infrastructure is the foundation of everything. It’s the new road that connects local communities.

“The bus you need to get to school. And the broadband that helps your small business trade around the world.

“The full benefits of our infrastructure revolution may not be felt for some time. But the work must start here and now.”

Digital secretary Nicky Morgan said: "I am delighted that we will invest £5bn to bring gigabit-capable broadband to those hard-to-reach parts of the UK ensuring that rural areas are not left behind.

"Our country’s digital infrastructure is essential to our future economic growth and productivity and we want everyone in the UK to benefit from world-class connectivity no matter where they live or work."

But Labour accused the Chancellor of offering only "re-announcements and damp squibs".

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: "One hundred and thirteen times more for roads than for public transport makes a mockery of the Tories' so-called green credentials.

"And yet another headline pledge, this time on broadband, turns out to be false: Boris Johnson called for full-fibre for all premises by 2025, but the chancellor now says he'll invest £5bn in lower grade 'gigabit-capable' technology, less than a sixth of what it will take to deliver full fibre to all."


Elsewhere on the second day of the Manchester gathering, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick will unveil plans to boost the economy by simplifying the planning process.

The proposals are aimed at making it easier for families to extend their homes, as well as replace empty high street premises with modern houses.

Mr Jencrick will say: “All too often the planning system proves complicated, outdated and bureaucratic and is too complex and costly for people and small businesses to navigate.

“This is a barrier to building the homes that we need and it must change.

 “I want to give families the freedom they need to expand their homes and ensure small developers get a fair chance to succeed.”

And the work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey will unveil a £4 million employment package to help disadvantaged young people “find that dream job”.

She will announce two new programmes to help disadvantaged young people into work and to use mobile technology to help jobseekers into higher paid jobs.

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