In the media this week
- Director Will Tanner was quoted in The Financial Times, The Times, Local Government Chronicle, Reaction and NVCO discussing the Queen’s Speech. He also wrote an article for Prospect Magazine on what the Government’s agenda means for broader politics.
- He also spoke to Times Radio and PoliticsHome about civil service reform.
- Deputy Director, Adam Hawksbee was quoted in the launch of Bloomberg UK’s Levelling Up Scorecard.
- Senior Researcher, Francesa Fraser spoke with FE News about apprenticeship policy.
- Our upcoming event on the future of work with Zoom is referenced in Gaby Hinsliff’s latest column for The Guardian. You can sign up to join the event here.
Yesterday, Deputy Director Adam Hawksbee spoke at the Centre for Cities’ event assessing how the Government’s levelling up agenda is progressing from the publication of the White Paper, 100 days on. You can watch this back here.
Today, Adam will also be speaking at the Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum about how to power up the UK’s regional economies. Find out more information here.
On Thursday 19th May, Director Will Tanner will be speaking at the Education Policy Institute: ‘Closing the Attainment Gap to Level Up’ in partnership with Teach First. Find out more information here.
Upcoming event: Homes for Ukraine
This Thursday 19th May, we will host our event ‘Homes for Ukraine,’ which will assess the Government scheme and discuss the future of refugee support. On the panel for this event are the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Kingdom His Excellency Vadym Prystaiko, Minister for Refugees Lord Harrington, Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko and Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food and refugee sponsor Victoria Prentis MP.
Head to our website here for more information about the event and registration.
Upcoming event: Restitch
There is just one week to go until Restitch: The Social Fabric Summit. It will bring together the most interesting thinkers and most inspiring practitioners to celebrate community, discuss the challenges facing our societies, and share practical steps to revive left-behind places and restore our fraying social fabric after the pandemic.
By following the registration link, you will be able to join us in person, either in Church House, London on Tuesday 24th May or at The Piece Hall, Halifax, on Friday 27th May. In addition to registering, you can choose which breakout session you want to join on each day of the summit.
A Queen’s Speech is a statement of a government’s priorities, but the strict time limit on each parliamentary session forces the Government to ruthlessly focus their battles.
And so it was last week, when ministers shifted their weight to the next election. This was a government fighting back after the local elections and partygate.
The three exceptions to the politicking are the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, the Schools Bill and the Energy Security Bill. Combined, they may well be the domestic legacy of a parliament bedevilled by coronavirus and sleaze.
There are radical ideas in the Levelling-up Bill. It will change the housebuilding incentives so communities are treated as development partners rather than passive recipients. It will also further devolution in England and force owners of long-term vacant shops to let them out.
The Schools Bill is similarly ambitious. It will expand multi-academy trusts, and introduce new powers to intervene in failing schools. This is long overdue.
The Energy Security Bill is focused on the medium- and long-term, rather than immediate pressures on bills, but is nevertheless vital. It will extend the price cap beyond its current end date and subsidise renewables investment.
These will require careful handling in Parliament. Previous attempts to extend academisation floundered in the face of opposition. And there is a lobby on the right resisting environmental policies.
A lot of what remains in the Queen’s Speech should be seen as politics, not policy. Take the bill to privatise Channel 4. There are justifications for doing this but it is a curious use of limited parliamentary time and rarely comes up on the doorstep.
The Government’s strategy relies on creating a wedge with the opposition ahead of the election. But pursuing short-term political wins over important structural reform carries risks. Ministers may soon wonder why they did not make use of their majority when they had the chance.
Ultimately economics – not policy – will shape Conservatives’ electoral fortunes. The prospect of two years of spiralling inflation, a potential recession to curb it, and falling real wages does not bode well. We will have to wait for the Chancellor’s next intervention to judge whether the Government has a plan to deal with that.
A version of this note appeared in Prospect on 18th May.
Will Tanner, Director at Onward
HM Treasury has announced the passage of the UK Infrastructure Bank Bill, which will remove legal restrictions and allow banks to directly lend to local communities for infrastructure projects. Link
The UK will launch its first satellite into space this summer. The scheme is a partnership between the Ministry of Defence, the UK Space Agency and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. It is a part of their three-year mission to increase the UK’s satellite presence in space. Link
The Department for Transport has announced plans to invest £200 million in zero-emission Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs). It is expected that from 2040 all HGVs sold in the UK will be zero-emission. Link
Wealth breeds complacency. The UK economy is being hampered at every turn.
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