Boris Johnson’s latest ‘build back better’ pledge won’t get Britain back to work | Polly Toynbee

‘Free qualifications for 11 million adults,’ we’re told. Like all the other empty promises, wait for the funds to be swept away

Nothing is what it seems: no sooner than it is announced than now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t money is whisked away. From today, the offer seems to be a chance for 11 million adults to gain new qualifications at no cost to themselves under a lifetime skills guarantee. Here comes yet another grandiose “build back better” pledge from the prime minister, breezing out sums with a lot of noughts on the end. But when the news moves on, under-the-counter cuts by the Treasury pare the funds away again.

There is a clear pattern: Boris Johnson promised Britain would become a “global science superpower”, a wise ambition since the UK is good at life sciences, despite low spending on research and development. But this week “catastrophic” cuts in grants put 18,000 research jobs in peril, sending the science budget into reverse.

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