Tories call for more regional growth bodies

The Conservatives have revealed they will ask local authorities to submit proposals to create ‘growth bodies’ across England, as part of their 2019 general election manifesto.

The manifesto, which was launched yesterday (November 24) outlines a number of policies, which the Tories said they would enact if they win next month’s election.

The document states the Conservatives are committed to ‘devolving power to people and places across the UK’.

‘We will also invite proposals from local areas for similar growth bodies across the rest of England, such as the Oxford-Cambridge Arc,’ the document states.

It also reiterates a previous commitment to publish an English Devolution White Paper next year.

The manifesto also repeats a commitment first published in the Conservative’s 2017 general election manifesto to create a UK Shared Prosperity Fund to replace EU funding after Brexit.

Details remain scant on how it will work, but the manifesto states £500m of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be used to ‘give disadvantaged people the skills they need to make a success of life’.

The manifesto also pledges to establish a £150m Community Ownership Fund to encourage local takeovers of civic organisations or community assets that are under threat – local football clubs, but also pubs or post offices.

The Conservatives said they will help communities that want to create ‘pocket parks’ and regenerate derelict areas in the document.

The manifesto also reiterates its commitment to the Towns Fund and business rates for local music venues, pubs and cinemas.

‘In order to safeguard our green spaces, we will continue to prioritise brownfield development, particularly for the regeneration of our cities and towns,’ the manifesto adds.

It also warns that local people will still be able to veto ‘excessive’ council tax rises.

The manifesto also includes a commitment to improve the energy efficiency of 2.2 million disadvantaged homes, by reducing their energy bills by as much as £750 a year.

This would be through a £3.8bn scheme to improve the insulation provided in 2 million social homes, reducing energy bills by an average of £160 a year.

And a Conservative government would also offer grants to 200,000 homes to replace boilers, provide insulation and in some cases replace energy systems wholesale.

‘If the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos were notable for the scale of their ambitions the Conservative one is not,’ said IFS director, Paul Johnson.

‘If a single Budget had contained all these tax and spending proposals we would have been calling it modest. As a blueprint for five years in government the lack of significant policy action is remarkable,’ he added.

‘In part that is because the chancellor announced some big spending rises back In September. Other than for health and schools, though, that was a one-off increase.

‘Taken at face value today’s manifesto suggests that for most services, in terms of day-to-day spending, that’s it. Health and school spending will continue to rise. Give or take pennies, other public services, and working age benefits, will see the cuts to their day-to-day budgets of the last decade baked in.’

Photo Credit – Wokanapix (Pixabay)


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