Bow Group Chairman Ben Harris-Quinney has expressed doubt that the government’s pledge to level up the North of England will work while inflation has hit its highest rate for 30 years and while Boris Johnson has committed the British taxpayer to his costly Green Agenda.
Ben Harris-Quinney made the remarks after Michael Gove unveiled the government’s latest plans to tackle regional inequality. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had during the December 2019 general election campaign promised to ‘level up’ parts of the country with support for local economic growth, notably affecting the North. People in the traditional Labour-voting North then went on in large numbers to vote Conservative, delivering for the party its biggest majority since Margaret Thatcher was reelected in 1987.
Speaking to GB News, Mr Harris-Quinney was asked whether the government could deliver on addressing regional inequality whilst also committing itself to its Green Agenda and amidst a cost of living crisis, with the Bow Group chairman responding: “My belief is that the real rate of inflation is over 10% and in order to keep people’s wages in the country generally growing at that level, you’ve got to go some.
The Levelling Up Fund pledges £4.8 billion in investment in infrastructure and regeneration projects, but Mr Harris-Quinney, however, suggested that it was not comparable to the money the British government has committed to foreign nations or the funds that other countries have had to expend to address their own regional imbalances.
Mr Harris-Quinney told GB News: “£4.8 billion is a lot of money. But we’ve just given £1 billion to Ukraine and if you look at the kind of money Germany had to spend in rebalancing the East with the West, that was about £70 billion a year that they invested in that and continue to invest in that.
“So I think that will be a real struggle.”
Mr Harris-Quinney also warned that the cost of Net Zero will damage the public’s finances and standard of living, telling the broadcaster: “The other point is [on] the Green Agenda, Net Zero. I don’t think the public truly understand the costs of this, what it’s going todo to public finances, but also what it’s going to do to their own finances and living standards.
“McKinsey the consultancy firm came out with a report a few weeks ago saying that the global cost of government expenditure on Net Zero would be $275 trillion. That’s just capital expenditure. That’s not what it will cost the economy.”
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