Some nice Budget ideas but what about pulling the big levers?

16 Mar 23

How do the chancellor’s ideas knit together, asks Justin Galliford.

Justin Galliford

The chancellor has given us a lot to think about and left a lot of questions unanswered.

Two big questions are: how joined up are the plans, and who’s going to deliver it?

Confirmation of the enterprise zones could be good; anything that gets investment into areas outside of London is. The third round of levelling up funding will help – but we’re still stuck with bidding, which takes time and allows problems for those who don’t win to continue.

Changes to the lifetime allowance rules on pensions will only impact on a very small number of people in the public sector, and the sector as a whole was largely missing from the Budget.

There was the usual price of petrol announcement and frozen duty on alcohol, but there are some big issues that need to be addressed – not least workforce.

There was a lot of commitment for generating nuclear energy at local level but – again – we needed more detail. How would a project like this get through the planning system and what would happen to the waste? And it’s not immediately deliverable; the actual benefit is a long way off.

Lots of people will want to know more about the childcare funding for free hours. Does the government subsidy go to the provider? Again, it’s good that the government wants to help people get back to work but the early years sector is struggling with pay and recruitment. It needs the private payers to subsidise the government payment. That said, it’s good for local economies.

With a lot of the commitments, there’s the question of how it all knits together.

Ultimately, we need to be able to pull the main levers in the economy – and workforce is one of them – to make a difference.

Micro actions need big decisions to succeed. We’re waiting for after the local elections, I suspect, on some of those but the UK cannot wait indefinitely.

  • Justin Galliford

    Chief executive of Norse Group. Wholly owned by Norfolk County Council, Norse’s turnover is over £350m. The company operates local authority partnerships across the UK, providing a wide range of services including waste and environmental, highways, FM, property consultancy and care homes.

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