Last week may have seen the Prime Minister launch plans to build back better, pledging cash for infrastructure before donning his hard hat this week to show he meant business. But as Boris goes hi-viz his chancellor was back at base, working up plans for a green recovery.
And he is not the only one. It seems every major politician and think-tank have had their collective heads down in an attempt to kill two crises with one very large fiscal stimulus – although arguably, not as large as it may need to be.
Compared with Europe, the UK figures are relatively small. Lib Dem acting leader Ed Davey has called for £45m to be handed to councils to tackle economic and environmental recovery; the Resolution Foundation wants a £200m package. Rishi Sunak will need to work some fiscal magic to make those sums add up.
As any optimist will tell you, coming out of the coronavirus crisis is a moment of change, the time to reconsider old habits and reshape them for the future. But it is no easy task.
Pushing people on to public transport during a pandemic will be a major feat, while encouraging people back to the high street without the environmental impact of consumer culture, a minor miracle. And launching into infrastructure investment without creating an environmental shock is a near impossibility – especially after the Prime Minister pledged to ease up on planning rules to build, build, build.
All this while creating jobs.
Up until now, councils pledging to go zero carbon any earlier than 2030 were radical frontrunners on the climate change agenda. That will not be enough in the new green recovery.
As the Government prepares its plans for devolution and reorganisation in the autumn, the director general of the CBI has said British business – buoyed by the success of local government in the pandemic – will push for turbo charged devolution.
It seems that even the business lobby – long-term sceptics when it comes to local government – is now on board with devolution.
Now we will need national, local and regional government working with the private sector to tackle the climate change and the economic crises ahead.