What lies ahead for the flagship agendas?

By Rob Whiteman CBE | 19 July 2022

The Prime Minister finally relented to unprecedented pressure from his Cabinet and party and resigned, but not without insisting he clings on to the keys to No10 until the autumn.

Having already agreed to not introduce any major policy changes in that time, and now surrounded by a new Cabinet mastering new briefs, where does this leave flagship agendas such as levelling up and net zero?

We’re living through the biggest squeeze in living standards in more than 30 years, with inflation running at more than 9% and predicted to hit double digits before it peaks. Inflation disproportionately affects the poorest in society as the rise in prices consumes a larger percentage of their income than the most well off. It’s these people levelling up is supposed to benefit and lift up.

Levelling up is not cheap and is certainly not quick. With rising costs of energy, fuel and raw materials, the Government will find levelling up investment doesn’t go as far as it would have only six months ago. Securing long-term funding was always needlessly tricky for local authorities, but will become even more challenging in the months ahead with the revolving doors to the Treasury and No10 about to come off their hinges.

Local authorities will be trying to mitigate the effects of inflation while delivering essential services for their communities, looking at their budgets to identify yet more savings and trying to take a long-term view of their finances and funding streams.

The war in Ukraine triggered a global energy crisis, with countries now racing to become energy self-sufficient and no longer held to ransom by Russia. Achieving net zero is not separate from levelling up. Investing in green infrastructure and energy can create skilled jobs and opportunities in disadvantaged parts of the country.

Based on the last six months of turmoil, scandal and the shuffling of chairs in central Government, you could be forgiven for asking what, exactly, has been achieved.

Rob Whiteman CBE is chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy


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