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Clegg vows economic 'gear change'

Investment in 40 major projects such as transport and broadband networks is to be speeded up as part of what Nick Clegg will describe as a "gear change" in economic policy.

The Deputy Prime Minister is expected to use a speech to promise action to "unblock" public but mainly private sector cash in an attempt to kick-start recovery.

He will warn that the worsening global picture has left the UK facing a "stark" reality and seek to head off perceptions of the coalition as relying on spending cuts alone.

Speaking at the London School of Economics, he will say Cabinet colleagues have been warned against "stockpiling capital that can be put to good use today".

There have been a slew of gloomy forecasts about the UK's prospects for growth this year, with Labour accusing the Government of having no "Plan B" beyond a spending squeeze.

Aides to Mr Clegg said he recognised that the power-sharing administration had failed adequately to persuade the public that action was being taken to stimulate demand.

Giving a fresh impetus to the most important schemes, including the Crossrail, high-speed broadband and improvements to motorways and the national grid, would help demonstrate that intent.

Mr Clegg will say: "Our critics say that all this Government is capable of is cuts. That, beyond lowering a few business taxes, reducing a bit of red tape, there is little else we are willing or able to do. That is absolutely wrong.

"We can do more, we are doing more, we will do more. Internationally, promoting co-operation, discouraging our global partners from turning inwards. And here in the UK, where, yes, we must stay firm on tackling our deficit but, at the same time, where there are levers we can pull to stimulate growth. Not least to deliver infrastructure."

Investment in the infrastructure improvements would boost the economy more quickly than many supply side measures, he will say, "laying the foundations for long-term growth".


From Belfast Telegraph