Ahead of the Budget and Spending Review on 27 October, a cross-party group of Parliamentarians has joined with the economics think tank the Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP) to call on the government to commit to ambitious action to Build Back Better after COVID-19.
Members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Inclusive Growth and All-Party Parliamentary Group for 'Left Behind' Neighbourhoods, together with CPP, release today a joint statement calling on the government to adopt new policies that will establish the UK as a global leader in inclusive, green growth and in boosting the health of its citizens following the pandemic.
Key recommendations include:
- Expanding the Pupil Premium to provide more funding for disadvantaged pupils, helping to tackle the impact of the pandemic on their educational attainment and breaking the link between low attainment and poor employment prospects. Signatories are calling on eligibility to be expanded to include children living in households earning less than £24,400 (representing the bottom 40% of the UK income distribution, and half of households with children).
In the North East for instance, 62% of families with children have a household income below £24,440 and the new policies would bring in an additional spend of £432 per primary school child in the region. By comparison, in London 44.8% of families have a household income below the threshold, bringing in an additional spend of £278 per primary school child
- Using the additional funding made available for the NHS to not just clear the current backlog but also safeguard community public health budgets, helping to improve the health resilience of communities and tackle the underlying causes of ill health
- As we approach COP26, ensuring that there is a ‘just transition’ to a low carbon economy by establishing a Just Transition Fund for local authorities to help alleviate the financial impact on people least able to bear the costs of reaching net zero. Also introducing a Net Zero Retraining Scheme to assist people who’ve been displaced by decarbonisation into new, quality jobs
- Establish a £2bn Community Wealth Fund using the next wave of dormant assets (e.g. bonds, stocks, shares, securities, insurance and pension policies) to ensure targeted, neighbourhood-level, long-term, community-led investment in the social infrastructure of the most disadvantaged and 'left behind' places
The two APPGs and CPP are joining together to make this statement in light of their common commitment to addressing the social and economic barriers holding back people and places across the United Kingdom. They also recognise that addressing these long-term challenges requires a cross-party commitment to doing so, with a plan to span successive parliaments. The full statement issued today can be read below.
Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Inclusive Growth, said:
“We may now be in the final stages of the Covid crisis - but we’re in the early stages of a new, sharper inequality crisis unless we take action now. After the years we had, it’s never been more important to rebuild an economy with inclusive growth, where progress is fairly shared.
"After much talk of levelling up, the forthcoming Spending Review is the moment of truth. I am delighted to join with the Centre for Progressive Policy and colleagues from different parties and both Houses of Parliament to call on the government to take steps to boost shared, sustainable growth the length and breadth of Britain.
"Whether it's through supporting school children from deprived backgrounds through an enhanced Pupil Premium, new measures to tackle health inequalities or ensuring a just transition to net zero, the work to ensure that we truly build back greener, fairer and stronger must start now.”
The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Inclusive Growth, said:
“I welcome this call to action that unites politicians across parties and urges us to think about commitments that will span generations.
“Closing the inequality gap is vital for the wellbeing of the whole nation. Disparities in health and education are stark and it is essential that we work together to enable people from all neighbourhoods, ethnicities and backgrounds to reach their full potential.
“This ‘levelling up’ will best be achieved when power and investment is released to local structures that can respond to personal and community aspirations, needs and contexts. I am heartened to read of sustainable solutions that will take us forward to a just transition which leaves no-one behind.”
Paul Howell MP, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for 'Left Behind' Neighbourhoods, said:
"We strongly endorse the recommendations in this joint statement and hope that they are reflected by the government - in the Spending Review and beyond.
“The recommendations form the basis of the transformative change that ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods require to tackle disparities in health and education, whilst ensuring that we meet our obligations to the planet. ‘Left behind’ neighbourhoods really are at risk of being hit harder in the long term by the pandemic and the impacts of climate change, and now is the time to ensure they don’t fall further behind and that we Build Back Better right across the country.”
Dame Diana Johnson MP, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for 'Left Behind' Neighbourhoods, said:
"We welcome this joint initiative alongside our colleagues from across Parliament, providing a vision for a better, more equal and sustainable future for our country.
"We know that ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods suffer worse outcomes across a range of indicators such as education, health and employment. Expanding the eligibility for the Pupil Premium and establishing a Community Wealth Fund would certainly help these neighbourhoods to gain a more equal footing with better-off areas. If the government really wants to make a change to the lives of people in ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods, targeted investment and support like the measures suggested by these recommendations are what is needed to overcome inequalities once and for all.”
In addition to tackling the challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, the policy recommendations outlined in the statement pioneer a new approach to investing in the most deprived or ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods, which trusts local people with spending decisions. This new approach will not only help to boost the UK’s long-term productivity potential but also to develop a strengthened, shared national identity by enabling more people to contribute to, and benefit from, the UK’s prosperity.
These themes will also be discussed at CPP’s Inclusive Growth Conference 2021, which takes place today (20th October). Speakers include Vice Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and former Treasury Minister Lord Jim O’Neill, the author and economist Dambisa Moyo, former Cabinet Minister Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP and Conservative MPs Paul Howell and John Stevenson. More information is available here.
For more information, please contact Holly Mahon on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07593 441 993.