This document forms the Centre for Progressive Policy’s submission to the BEIS Committee inquiry into post-pandemic economic growth. The submission calls on government to follow a two-stage approach to the post-pandemic recovery. In the short term, the government must act to shore up local economies and thereby minimise damage, prevent scarring and build resilience. Over the longer term, it is vital that the government returns to a revitalised levelling up agenda to reduce inequalities and drive sustainable, inclusive growth. Creating an economy in which all communities have the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from growth will ensure the future prosperity of this country.
This submission makes the following recommendations:
- The government should adopt inclusive growth as the guiding principle for recovery. Success will depend on addressing entrenched place-based inequalities in skills and good work, health and public and private investment.
- The government should increase investment in social infrastructure and avoid short-term spending cuts. This should be funded through borrowing and will mean breaching its fiscal rules. In due course, the government should develop new fiscal rules that prioritise long-term fiscal sustainability through inclusive growth.
- The government should increase individual economic resilience by improving skills (especially in former Red Wall areas). To achieve this, the government should introduce a ‘turbocharged Right to Retrain’. This means building a high-quality online learning system, strengthening existing provision, supporting the living costs of learners and ramping up local strategic input.
- Central government must ensure local government is fully compensated for the Covid-19 crisis before local government can return to helping to support the levelling up agenda. Further reform of regional and local government should seek to ensure streamlined and integrated social and economic policy delivery, accountability and investment. It should enable local inclusive recoveries led at a strategic level by combined authorities and upper tier councils with maximal alignment of other public sector boundaries.
- The government should adopt CPP’s five tests for inclusive economic renewal. This means closing gaps both between and within places in terms of economic inactivity, income, employment, skills, good jobs, health and investment.
- The government should act to improve health, place-based and individual economic resilience. Health resilience can be boosted by introducing CPP’s social model of health (including more government spending for public health and increased deprivation targeting). The outbreak of the pandemic has shown the extent to which population health is critical for a functioning economy and cuts across every aspect of government policy, at a national and local level.