BROMSGROVE MP Sajid Javid chose Longbridge to launch the Government’s new ‘Productivity Plan’.
Mr Javid, who is Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, was responsible for unveiling the ‘Fixing the Foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation’ document on Friday in Longbridge.
The plan consists of 15 points with the aim of reversing the UK’s long-term productivity problem, securing rising living standards and a better quality of life for citizens.
He said: “This is a bold and ambitious plan, to achieve our vision of a more dynamic economy, with a business environment that fosters long-term investment, raising our living standards and become the best of all the major economies by 2030.
“The plan we are publishing today shows we are taking the decisions necessary to address issues of productivity and build a foundation for Britain’s future.
“Standing here in Longbridge a decade ago you could have been forgiven for thinking that Britain’s car industry was in terminal decline. Yet today, the UK is home to the world’s most productive automotive sector.
“If one sector can solve the productivity puzzle in such spectacular fashion, there’s no reason why others can’t too.”
A large gap in productivity exists between the UK and leading advanced economies.
It is hoped the plan will reduce this by encouraging long term investment and promoting a dynamic economy.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said: “The only way to sustainably raise the living standards of the citizens of our nation is to confront the challenge of our lifetime.
“This will not be achieved overnight and will require a truly national effort by Government, business and working people.”
The Chancellor asked former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Charles Bean to lead an independent review of the UK’s economic statistics in terms of quality, delivery and governance. It is hoped this will ensure the best possible assessment of productivity.
Included in the plan is the controversial replacement of maintenance grants with loans for those studying at university, as well as changes in planning and making more homes available to buy.
Mr Javid has welcomed Government support to help more than 100 new Bromsgrove businesses.
Entrepreneurs in the town can now apply for start-up loans and new enterprise allowance schemes to help set up their own business – helping to provide growth and jobs for hardworking families in the area.
Start-up loans have helped 25 people in Bromsgrove to set up a business with £113,430 worth of loans since the scheme was launched in 2012 where as the new enterprise allowance has also helped 100 people to launch their own business.
LABOUR MP Richard Burden has hit back at the new plan, claiming most of it ‘was pretty irrelevant to the productivity challenge’.
Mr Burden, who represents Longbridge, where the plan was launched, criticised the relaxation of planning laws.
“Now, whatever else you might say about the Longbridge redevelopment, it has not been held back by a failure to build houses there.
“Houses have been going up there.The big prize is to get investment in the land zoned for employment – and with it quality jobs that will help our community to prosper.”
He added if Mr Javid and the Conservatives wanted to tackle the Midlands’ housing crisis, he should give housing assocations and councils the tools they need to build affordable homes for rent and sale.
He acknowledged that Mr Javid did mention the key to increased productivity is to boost skills and tackle low pay which, he said, hit the Northfield area particularly hard.
But, he added, Mr Javid failed to talk about the Government’s plans for education.
“With the new Bournville College just across the road from where he was speaking, it is regrettable he said nothing about further education or about the axe his Government is taking to the ault skills budget.”
He said Mr Javid failed to mention many working parents who gained £400 from an increase in the minimum wage would lose around £860 in changes to tax credits in 2016/17.
“As for low pay, he made much of the Government’s plan to raise the minimum wage to £7.20 per hour.
“Indeed, some people out of work will actually lose money if they get a job.”
He said the automotive industry illustrated ways to boost productivity by focusing on skills, innovation and investment.
“It’s also been a great example of how partnership between Government, industry and trade unions has turned the sector around in the last couple of decades.
“There has also been consistency of Government policy towards automotive, with the 2012-15 coalition building on the foundations laid by the last Labour Government.
“Will Sajid and his colleagues continue that in the next five years?
“I hope so but his speech in Longbridge and the attack on trade unions he launched the following week don’t augur well,” he said.