Responding to today’s publication of the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper, Dr Roger Barker, the Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors, commented:
“We welcome this important new initiative. Many business leaders will support the extension of the Metro mayor concept to other parts of England. And defining cross-government missions and objectives across a range of policy areas – with a framework of monitoring and measurement – is a useful innovation.
“However, what is less clear is how many of these ambitious objectives will be realised. The Government is not placing a substantial amount of new money on the table, and much of the progress will depend on attracting private sector investment. The levelling up agenda for transport has already experienced a significant setback, arising from the cancellation of the eastern extension of HS2. Whilst commitments to higher public spending on R&D will be welcomed by IoD members, who see this as a key tool of regional development, this is still an area in which the UK lags behind major competitors.
“Of particular concern to many of our members will be the future of Local Enterprise Partnerships. Although LEPs have exhibited a mixed record in terms of galvanising local investment, some are valued components of the regional business ecosystem. It will be important that the Government does not throw the baby out with the bathwater in its reshaping of local business engagement.
“In the current business environment, firms are facing an impending tsunami of additional costs and taxes. Our own research shows that this will have direct implications for investment intentions. This will not be helpful in realising Government hopes for a substantial groundswell of private sector investment in regional economies.”