£1.5 billion worth of infrastructure renewal projects will help kickstart London’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis

On July 29, 2020, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced infrastructure renewal projects worth up to £1.5 billion to help kickstart London’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

The London Recovery Board—led by Khan and Cllr. Peter John, the Chair of London Councils—met today to discuss long-term measures to enable the capital’s social and economic recovery from Covid-19, including a plan to join forces with utility companies on the Mayor’s London Infrastructure Group.

Dr. Debbie Weekes-Barnard, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility, Community Engagement, said “The Covid-19 crisis has exposed how deep-rooted the structural inequalities and racism in our economy and society. I welcome these investments which will help to counter the deep recession that we are all facing. Joining up new investment initiatives with skills programmes for our communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic shows how action can be taken to benefit both social and economic recovery. This is a great initiative and we will support firms all the way in making the change.

The partnership will progress projects to support the green recovery and jobs, helping to counteract Covid-19’s damaging impact on the economy.

Projects include:

  • Upgrading the gas network to improve the security of London’s gas supplies;
  • Reducing water leakage by 20 per cent and pollution incidents by 30 per cent by 2025;
  • Progressing plans to increase the resilience of the water supply network serving boroughs in north east London; the City and Canary Wharf; and
  • Ensuring the electricity infrastructure is in place to support electric vehicles, using innovative planning tools to identify the best charger locations and timings.

Companies including Cadent, Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), SGN, UK Power Networks and Thames Water are working with City Hall and London’s local authorities to also identify new green schemes and accelerate future investment, providing new jobs that meet the mayor’s aim for London to be a fairer, more equal, greener and resilient city post-Covid.

Khan said, “The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been devastating for our economy and we face a long road ahead, but the London Recovery Board has made great progress in working with companies to deliver infrastructure projects that will help to stimulate our economy, create green jobs and support Londoners who have been affected the most by the economic crisis.

It is essential that infrastructure initiatives are utilised to serve all Londoners as we work to recover from this pandemic and to build back better with a fairer and greener economy. By working together with the major utility companies to progress and bring forward these projects, we have a valuable opportunity to improve the diversity of the sector and to help create new jobs for those who have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. This will help us to ensure nobody is left behind in London’s recovery. I am really pleased to work with the utility companies to support the city now and in the weeks ahead at the same time as reaching out to all Londoners to hear their long-term aspirations for the capital,” he continued.

Some projects may require additional regulatory approval to ensure value for money and affordability, and the Board has stated its commitment to working with utilities, the Government and regulators to progress the case for additional investments that will boost London’s economy.

Mark Adolphus, Director of Connections at UK Power Networks, explained “As the company which delivers electricity to 2.3 million properties to keep the capital running smoothly, we are a leading architect of the low-carbon economy and know our role is particularly vital now in enabling the UK’s economic recovery. We look forward to continuing diverse investment and innovation projects that will help businesses to thrive, and people to make the most of emerging technologies both now, and in the future. Safety remains our top priority and all work will be carried out in line with the latest Covid-19 health and safety guidance.

In addition, the Board has committed to support utility companies in identifying employment opportunities, especially for young people and Londoners from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds who have been disproportionately affected by the crisis. It was noted that, throughout the pandemic, no staff were furloughed in any of these utility companies, and that recruitment has continued.

Peter John OBE added, “Collaboration is at the heart of London’s work to overcome the terrible impact of Covid-19 and rebuild a stronger, more equal and sustainable economy in the months and years ahead. London boroughs are committed to bringing their powers, relationships and local knowledge to the table to ensure London’s recovery delivers jobs, infrastructure and inclusive growth for communities across the capital.

Once the specific projects have been identified and agreed, they will be delivered with the support of the Mayor’s recently established Infrastructure Coordination Service, to promote collaboration and minimize costly road network disruption, particularly at a time when Sadiq is encouraging more Londoners to walk and cycle.

The plans add to existing actions from the Mayor, including:

  • The £9 million Skills for Londoners Covid-19 Response Fund to support London’s Adult Education providers in responding to the needs of adult learners and communities;
  • £2.3 million in grant funding to support London’s cultural and creative industries;
  • An additional £1 million into extending business support over the coming 12 months to help small businesses through the current crisis and period of recovery;
  • Pay it Forward London, in partnership with Crowdfunder, which lets Londoners buy goods and services from businesses ahead of them reopening as lockdown restrictions are eased;
  • An online Covid-19 support hub offering a range of key online resources; and
  • Business support programmes that have adapted to deliver specific business support on the telephone and through online platforms.

The announcement comes as the London Recovery Board kicks off a mass public engagement exercise on the next phase of the Recovery Programme. Using the Talk London platform – which currently has well over 50,000 users – the London Recovery Board is inviting Londoners to play their part in helping to shape the city’s recovery from Covid-19.

James Harrison Cadent, Director of London Network said “Cadent is playing an instrumental part in London’s economic recovery, annually investing in upgrading our gas network which helps ensure the capital enjoys the world class infrastructure which enables it to be a leading global business hub. We continue to recruit the people who help us do this and we offer exciting employment opportunities across a wide range of disciplines.

We’re also investing in green technologies including new zero emission vehicles for our engineers which will help as we all work toward achieving net zero. The recovery will also be aided by work we continued and in some cases brought forward during lockdown in usually very busy areas, which has spared London’s economy the costly disruption there could have been had work been done during normal times,” he concluded.

Photo of River Thames in London by Free-Photos from Pixabay.

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