Boris Johnson will fail to level up Britain’s poorer regions or set the country on course for net zero carbon emissions unless more power is devolved locally and more money is invested in green policy, the government’s productivity watchdog has warned. The Industrial Strategy Council said that the government’s levelling up agenda, to lift living standards across the country, was “over-reliant on infrastructure spending” and that its funding was too “thinly spread across a range of initiatives”. Investments in green measures “are not yet a practical road map for delivering net zero, with several areas lacking the required scale to make progress at the required speed”, the council, led by Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist, added. The damning judgment came in its final report. The council, whose members include top business leaders and policymakers, was established in 2017 to oversee the government’s industrial strategy and drive productivity, but it is being disbanded. Green investment is a fraction of what the government is claiming. Only £3 billion of the £12 billion announced so far is “new money”. To hit net zero, the council noted that PWC, the accounting group, had estimated that £40 billion a year was needed. The prime minister has hailed hydrogen as a clean energy of the future, but has allocated only £240 million of investment, compared with €7 billion in Germany. To ensure that taxpayer funds are well spent, the government should set up a “rigorous oversight” body to evaluate delivery and to ensure that policies drive productivity, the council said. “Abolition of the council means no such body exists to hold government to account,” it said.
Times 24th March 2021 read more »