The Government’S Productivity Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:27 pm on 28th February 2017.

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Photo of Jo Johnson Jo Johnson Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education) 4:27 pm, 28th February 2017

As I said, the alignment of the two Departments’ work programmes is complex, but the process is well under way. Further reports will be made available to the Select Committee in due course.

In its report, the Select Committee expressed concerns about the clarity of the productivity plan’s objectives and the extent to which it represented a new plan for productivity growth. The plan sets out clear objectives that directly target the high-level drivers of productivity performance. It also contains several innovative new policies, such as the commitments to set up a national roads fund and a network of prestigious institutes of technology.

The report also questioned the extent to which Ministers are engaged in the implementation of the plan’s policies. The ministerial team regularly discusses issues relating to the main policies in the productivity plan at several Cabinet Committees, including the Economy and Industrial Strategy Committee. Alongside the Cabinet Committees, the Government have set up a series of implementation taskforces, which are attended by relevant Ministers and senior officials. For example, the earn or learn taskforce is supporting the Government’s commitment to reach 3 million apprenticeships starts in England by 2020, which is one of the many ways the Government are addressing the skills challenges the country faces.

As recommended by the Select Committee, our response includes an update that details the progress made on and future implementation of each of the plan’s 172 commitments. It shows that more than a third of commitments have now been fully delivered, and that outstanding commitments remain on track. For example, we have published a new national infra- structure delivery plan, which details more than £100 billion of planned public investment in infrastructure to 2021; we finalised the funding policy for the apprenticeship levy ahead of its introduction in April 2017; and, through the Housing and Planning Act 2016, we legislated for key planning reforms, such as automatic permission in principle on brownfield sites.

Further mayoral devolution deals have been signed in Liverpool, Sheffield and the west midlands and we have increased the annual investment allowance to £200,000, which is its highest ever permanent level. We also announced at autumn statement a new national productivity investment fund, which will provide £23 billion of additional investment between 2017-18 and 2021-22. That will be targeted at four critical areas for improving productivity: housing, transport, digital communications, and R and D.