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Levelling up proposals of “dubious quality,” says IEA economist

Professor Len Shackleton, Editorial and Research Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, responded to the government’s levelling up plan 

“Drastically reducing illiteracy, boosting average pay and productivity, increasing life expectancy, smashing crime or boosting ‘pride in place’ are not in the gift of government alone. If these aspirations are eventually achieved it will be as a by-product of private sector growth and social change which cannot simply be wished into existence.

“The proposals are of dubious quality. An expansion of regional mayors will add another layer of government, with added cost and the potential for disruptive disputes between different centres of power, often in different political hands.

“The intention to spread government R&D around the country could damage the success story of the Oxford-Cambridge corridor, which is currently an international attractor.

“Proposals to restrict the power of landlords to evict tenants will not alleviate the shortage of rented accommodation, and nor will pressure on owners of high street shopping spaces to fill them necessarily achieve the desired result.

“The idea of improving public transport to London standards doesn’t consider the geographical spread of population and preferred travel modes. Trains between Southport and Wigan can never be as frequent as tube trains on the Victoria line, while getting from Haworth to Bradford by two separate buses cannot be as attractive as driving a car.

“Despite noises about devolution, there is still a ‘top down’ feeling about many proposals, which often consist of rebadging existing initiatives (for instance that old favourite, enhancing skills, or investing in football pitches).

“The requirement to add ‘spatial analysis’ to all new policy proposals, in the same way as the impact on women, on minorities and on the environment has to be taken into account, will lengthen official documents but probably achieve little else.

“This programme could have been written by any political party. There is nothing here about encouraging private business by cutting taxes and regulation – which is the only way forward to promote growth and prosperity across the country as a whole.”

Notes editors

Contact: Annabel Denham, Director of Communications, 07540 770 774

IEA spokespeople are available for interview and further comment.

Government unveils levelling up plan that will transform UK

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