Ministers should act to release green belt land for development, create a genuine fast-track planning system and allow councils to keep more of the uplift in business rates, as part of a 24-point plan for economic growth, the Institute for Directors has said.
In a policy paper, the business lobby group put forward two dozen policy changes over ten areas of government policy which it argued could transform growth prospects at little or no cost to the taxpayer over the next four years.
The IOD said it was concerned that ministers were “not doing enough, quickly enough”, to improve the supply-side of the economy and that the “freebie’ policy measures would help boost immediate private sector growth as well as create a long-term positive vision for the UK.
The measures included releasing green belt land for development to boost the construction sector; creating a genuine fast-track planning system for key national projects to boost construction; and replacing ageing infrastructure, with local objections “overridden”.
The IOD also said local authorities should be able to keep some of the increase in business rate income so they have an incentive to boost private sector growth in their areas, a policy already being considered by ministers as part of the local government resource review.
But it added that this should not be extended to allow local authorities to set the level of business rates “since this is likely to undermine growth”.
The IOD also said the government’s £1.4bn regional growth fund should focus on “winners not losers” and targeted at “cities and clusters likely to yield the greatest return on investment”.
Miles Templeman, IOD director-general, said: “The government wants to maximise the opportunities for economic growth but it has little or no money with which to do it. Many of the measures we have proposed today are long overdue and would improve the UK’s infrastructure and the functioning of its labour market.”