The government is desperate for economic growth but where can it find
it? This was the question posed to Eric Pickles on the Sunday Politics today, but sadly he was unable to provide much of an answer. The Communities and Local Government secretary gave a blustering
interview, where he reaffirmed William Hague’s view that
‘growth will come from government creating conditions for us to work a little bit harder.’ But when pushed by Andrew Neil on what this (slightly condescending) idea actually means,
Pickles jumped on the chance to blame Labour for the ‘something for nothing culture’.
Pickles did add that the government’s chosen sources of prosperity are business investment and, relatedly, the stripping back of regulation. But, in both cases, progress is stalling. In
November last year, the OBR forecast that business investment growth would stand at 7.7 per cent this year — but that figure has now been slashed to 0.7 per cent. And despite Pickles’ policy of scrapping two regulations for every one introduced, he admitted that
the government is limited by the demands of the European Union.
In the end, Pickles’ interview was a classic example of one of the coalition’s main problems right now: the gap between their rhetoric and their achievements on growth.
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