Barber says Heseltine report must lead to long-term investment

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The TUC today said Lord Heseltine’s forthcoming report on boosting regional growth will only be successful if it leads to a long-term shift in government industrial policy.

Commenting ahead of the review, which will be published tomorrow, the TUC said the study must pass a number of key tests.

The review needs to:

  1. Recognise the role of government in reducing inequality between and within regions – we need recovery in every part of the country not just parts of London and the South East.
  2. Oppose regional pay as it will increase inequality between regions.
  3. Recommend a big shake up of finance to give the country banks that serve the needs of industry, with a beefed up British Business Bank and a proper Green Investment Bank.
  4. Call for a big investment in skills to create jobs, training opportunities and apprenticeships, especially for young unemployed people.
  5. Recognise that successful companies involve their staff through unions and that unions can play an important role working with business, local councils and government agencies to deliver growth.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “This review could start to deliver the change we need by recognising a new role for government in shaping and boosting growth, particularly in the regions.  We need the same public and private sector drive that gave us the Olympics, now harnessed to renew the economy.

“But half-baked free-market small-state approaches like regional pay actively hinder regional renaissance.

“While there is a very wide consensus around our approach – including many businesses and even members of this government – it goes against the grain of Treasury orthodoxy.

“So the biggest test of all for what could well be a progressive set of policies will be whether the whole government adopts and implements the new approach we need. The hands-off approach of the last thirty years has not delivered an economy that works for ordinary people – this is a chance to start the long-term investment in growth, jobs and living standards that we desperately need.”


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