Heseltine: ministers not thinking enough about growth
27 November 2012
By Iain Robinson
Treasury approval of Lord Heseltine's detailed blueprint for growth should not be viewed as a government switch to an economic Plan B, the Tory peer has insisted.
Lord Heseltine's recent report, No Stone Unturned, made 89 recommendations, which he says draw together various policy strands to create a more potent strategy to deliver nationwide economic prosperity. They include greater devolution of power from Whitehall to the regions, the development of a formal cross-departmental economic strategy and the creation of new funding sources to enhance the impact of local enterprise partnerships.
But the former deputy Prime Minister told an Institute for Government debate last night that his report should be viewed as an extension of existing government policy, rather than a major departure.
Chancellor George Osborne has broadly accepted the report, but will use next week's Autumn Statement to reveal which of the suggested growth policies the Treasury is willing to implement.
Lord Heseltine said: "There has to be a government policy called 'growth' and it has to be articulated and set out clearly. I don't think that any government would disagree with that, but it can only be meaningful if it embraces every government department.
"If we had a growth strategy across all departments then a lot of ministers would realise that they had not given sufficient thought to growth within their own departments. No one has ever said, 'We think we can contribute to national growth'."
He added: "I do think that this crisis has made people look at the minutiae of government performance more closely than in the previous 50 years, but I don't call that Plan B.
"Of the 89 recommendations, there is not one that is not an extension of what this government has already been doing. I don't accept that it's a Plan B - it is a coming together of the strategies of previous governments over quite a long time."