IPPR North Director Sarah Longlands said:
“I welcome the Chancellors announcements today particularly his focus on jobs which will be crucial for the many businesses across the North who are struggling at the current time. But given that we have one of the most centralised Government’s in the developed world, I fear that he has too much confidence in the power of Whitehall to deliver this plan.
“Covid-19 has shown us the real value of devolved and local authorities working hard to support their communities. The Chancellor must now commit to working in partnership with them to deliver the economic recovery.
“Getting our economy back up and running cannot be achieved from Whitehall alone. The Chancellor talked today about the value of endurance. In the North and across the regions of England, businesses, communities and local councils have had to endure years of centralised decision making, which has seen them become poorer, sicker and with fewer job opportunities. They have had to endure ten years of austerity which has seen the most vulnerable in society, our children, those living with disabilities and older people in care disproportionately affected”.
On the Chancellor’s plans to “protect, retain and support jobs”, Researcher Marcus Johns said:
“Aspects of the Chancellor’s plans for jobs are welcome, including a focus on young people whose prospects have been hit hard. Decent work must be prioritised in economic policy and we heard some recognition of this today. However, decent work is more than a soundbite. It requires real substance, including living wages and sustainable, secure employment for all workers.
“Wages, employment opportunities, and job quality are not experienced equally around the country. It is disappointing that the Chancellor claims to be ‘doubling down on levelling up’ in this speech, but announces one-size-fits-all national schemes which do not consider the different circumstances of the different communities across the country.”
On the Chancellor’s plans to “level up” the country, Senior Research Fellow Anna Round said:
“The Chancellor’s focus on skills and sectors mean this investment can make a difference in the long-term, as well as in response to the immediate crisis. For maximum impact local leadership is key. That’s how to make the most of the opportunities our regions offer – and to address the local impacts of Covid-19.
“But building infrastructure is not enough to support all people across the UK. Our regional divides are among the worst in the developed world. On life expectancy and health, low pay and poverty, education and public services, as has been thrown into sharp relief during this pandemic, these deep inequalities have terrible economic and human consequences. They have undermined our social and community resilience, leaving the North dangerously unprepared for serious challenges like this pandemic. Only large-scale and long-term investment in people and places can secure the recovery the country needs.”
On building a Green Recovery, Research Fellow Jack Hunter said:
“The Chancellor is right to highlight the importance of green jobs to the economy, but to create a long-term and sustainable recovery, he must do much, much more than what was announced today.
“We need to see much higher levels of investment in green jobs, and we need funding devolved to local authorities who know their areas best.
“We need to put a Plan for Nature in the North of England at the heart of the post Covid-19 North, led by the North, with a £50bn investment from government. Unfortunately, today’s announcements fell some way short of this”.