The Institute of Directors added a bit more moss to the rolling stone of worry about the government’s growth agenda today, releasing the results of a survey of business leaders that condemned a list of the government’s reforms as ‘ineffective’. It’s worth looking at the full list of areas where the respondents felt the government is failing to deliver, but in short simplifying the planning system was deemed the least ineffectual set of reforms, with reducing tax complexity the area where the government scored worst.
Now, before Chuka Umunna gets too excited about the words ‘too far and too fast’, the IoD’s members did support the government’s deficit reduction measures. But this survey does add to the growing consensus that something must be done about growth this autumn.
The thinking in Number 10 currently leans towards sinew-straining – a tweaking of what is already there rather than a dramatic overhaul of everything that has been achieved over the past few years. This will mean some new legislation, but not a change of direction. I am told that this means there will not be a brand new National Planning Policy Framework, but rather changes to that document and others too. ‘It’s a case of straining everything a little further,’ one insider tells me, clearly inspired by the number of muscly Olympians visiting London over the past few weeks.
This will be relief for Eric Pickles, who is not keen on overhauling the NPPF again as he feels his department’s work on planning has already done the job of freeing up the system.
Many Conservative MPs, meanwhile, will be hoping any tweaks that are made to the framework do not endanger the Green Belt. The depth of feeling on this in the party runs far deeper than it does on matters such as train fare rises, because MPs campaigned so conspicuously on it in 2010. Not only was it in the party’s manifesto as a pledge to ‘maintain national green belt protection’, but it appeared on numerous leaflets in constituency campaigns. Backbenchers worry that changing the rules preventing development on green belt would be seen as a totemic betrayal by the Conservatives. It’s one sinew they don’t want to see strained at all.Tags: Business, Growth, Planning, UK politics