The former deputy Prime minister, Lord Heseltine has published his ideas for helping the UK economy grow through a new partnership between the public and private sector and local and central government.
The report, entitled ‘No Stone Unturned’ and commissioned by the government pushes for power to be devolved from Westminster to the regions and for there to be more local-level leadership pushing for growth.
It makes 89 separate recommendations to help industry and aims to reinvigorate big cities to drive economic performance and provide growth all over the UK, not just stemming from London and the south-east. He said London had acquired too much power and that to mobilize skills in provincial England, some of that power needs to be devolved.
Lord Heseltine said: "Our ability to create wealth has suffered. Each day more and more of the leading economies are enhancing their skills, adding to their strengths and grasping larger shares of the world's wealth. We need to strain every sinew to get back up there with the world's best.”
Heseltine wants the government to move £49 billion of funding from central government to the regions through new Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) that have taken the place of Regional Development Agencies in England.
He also recommended that at the central level of government there needs to be bolder promotion of major infrastructure projects. He wants a national growth council to be created, chaired by the Prime Minister.
Lord Heseltine said: "Central government must retain control of important, large scale infrastructure projects. This includes our motorway network, national rail network and airports, as well as our energy networks."
British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: “Government should be addressing the very real challenges retailers see on high streets and in shopping centres up and down the country.
“You only need to look at the one in five shops that are closed in some areas to understand how some towns and cities are struggling.
"But moving spending powers from Whitehall to other tiers of government isn't the answer. We've seen regional policies come and go. What we really need is more certainty and stability.”
Another of Lord Heseltine’s recommendations is to use pension funds to invest in infrastructure. He said that with yields low on traditional stocks and shares investments there is scope for money to be invested in infrastructure to get a better return than is currently available in normal markets.
The Chancellor, George Osborne said: "I wanted Lord Heseltine to do what he does best: challenge received wisdom and give us ideas on how to bring Government and industry together. He has done exactly that. This is a report bursting with ideas and we will study it very carefully."