News | Published January 26 2020

Chancellor’s comments this week bode well for addressing Leith Planning’s concerns

Chancellor Sajid Javid’s comments reported by the Financial Times this week have drawn some attention due to his hinting that the UK could look to diverge from some EU rules after Brexit. However, other issues which he discussed, including plans for economic growth and regional investment, have garnered less attention. Yet, it is these comments which may bode well for one town planning consultancy and some of its concerns over how the country is run.

Chris Plenderleith, the executive chairman of Leith Planning, a boutique town planning consultancy in Lancashire, has been plying his trade for over 30 years. In his view, for the government to reduce the effects of uncertainty, then it must address five distinct issues, which he discussed in The Parliamentary Review.

Plenderleith added: "Economic growth...can only be delivered by generating confidence – be that confidence in government or management. We must also, however, challenge bureaucracy and promote initiative and imagination, supported by inclusive policies which promote equality."

Interestingly, a response to regional disparity which will drive economic growth was mooted by the chancellor in his interview with the Financial Times this week.

To provide context, outgoing Bank of England governor Mark Carney told the Financial Times prior to Javid's interview that the UK economy's trend growth rate is between one per cent and 1.5 per cent.

However, Javid has now indicated that he wishes to double annual economic growth to between 2.7 and 2.8 per cent.

It is how the chancellor proposes to achieve this which is even more thought-provoking.

Javid added that this growth would be fuelled by an increase in government spending on skills and infrastructure across the Midlands and North of England. In order to accommodate this, he will rewrite the Treasury’s existing investment rules which have historically favoured government investment going into areas with high economic growth and high productivity.

Much depends of course on the levels of investment that will go to deprived areas, yet this additional investment could constitute a real first step in addressing regional disparity.

Furthermore, the changing of Treasury investment rules has the potential to set a precedent for this to continue in the years to come.

The knock-on effect that Javid hopes this will have on economic growth may seem ambitious when measured up against the Bank’s projections, although time will tell as to whether fulfilling this vision is indeed possible. Indeed, it leaves plenty to ponder for those who doubted the government ahead of December's election, but how such ambitious plans materialise will ultimately matter the most.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
January 26 2020

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