Hartlepool MP slams Tories' Productivity Plan as 'vague'

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright says there's nothing new in the Government's so-called Productivity Plan.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright says there's nothing new in the Government's so-called Productivity Plan.

MPs have questioned whether the Government's so-called Productivity Plan can be called a plan at all, describing it as an assortment of existing policies.

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee also dubbed ministerial engagement with the plan as "far too weak".

The plan, covering 15 areas including transport, energy and infrastructure, was said to lack clear objectives.

The committee said in a report: "This broad and expansive document represents more of an assortment of largely existing policies collected together in one place than a new plan for ambitious productivity growth.

"Our conversations with the ministers and subsequent analysis has led us to conclude that the ministerial engagement in the implementation of the Productivity Plan is far too weak.

"We are concerned that the cross-departmental implementation work for what is meant to be a key part of government economic policy has been left to officials holding periodic meetings. "

The MPs said ministerial direction and political leadership needed to be much clearer and stronger.

Committee chairman Iain Wright (Labour, Hartlepool) said the Government's focus on tackling productivity was welcome, but added: "Rather than being a clear and distinctive roadmap as to how Britain will close our productivity gap, the Productivity Plan is a vague collection of existing policies.

"The analysis in the Government's plan is good, but the milestones for implementing improvements are virtually non-existent.

"If the Productivity Plan is going to avoid collecting dust on Whitehall bookshelves and having a legacy of being seen as worthy but useless, then the Government needs to back it up by setting out how these policies are going to be implemented and how their success will be measured."

He told the Press Association that the plan was unveiled just a few months after the May general election, and contained nothing new or distinctive.