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UK plans S$1.7b in building projects to boost economy

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Boris Johnson's government will invest nearly 1.3 billion pounds (S$2.34 billion) in building projects and provide 2 billion pounds in energy efficiency grants in an effort to create jobs and rally the pandemic-hit UK economy.

[LONDON] Boris Johnson's government will invest nearly 1.3 billion pounds (S$2.34 billion) in building projects and provide 2 billion pounds in energy efficiency grants in an effort to create jobs and rally the pandemic-hit UK economy.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said 300 "shovel-ready" projects will receive a share of a 900 million pound Getting Building Fund, and a further 360 million pounds will go toward homes on previously developed "brownfield" land.

The UK's construction industry was stalled by the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year and rebooting the sector could help ease unemployment and generate revenue as the country faces its worst recession for 300 years. The building fund is expected to deliver 45,000 new homes and the brownfield programme 26,000, the government said.

"As we get Britain building we are also laying the foundations for a green recovery by investing in vital infrastructure for local communities, creating jobs and building environmentally-friendly homes," Mr Jenrick said in an emailed statement.

Among the projects that will receive funding is a new high-speed railway station at Thanet, on England's south east coast, and a new commercial space in Manchester, north west England. Across all the funded projects, the government estimates the investment will create 85,000 new jobs.

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The details of the Green Homes Grant programme, helping 600,000 homeowners to make their properties more energy efficient, were announced at the same time. The grants will cover as much as 5,000 pounds of work. Lower income households can claim as much as 10,000 pounds each.

The programme will cover insulation and double-glazing, as well as the installation of ground source heat pumps, energy efficient doors and heat controls. Households will be offered a list of approved tradespeople within their local area to carry out the work, and vouchers will be issued from September.

The grants will "help to protect and create jobs, while also saving people money and cutting carbon," Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said in an emailed statement.

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