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Jun 22

Political parties’ productivity plans

Productivity is the biggest peacetime issue facing all UK political parties

Annual improvements are vital if living standards and average earnings are to be raised – so what did their recent manifestos say about it?

Conservative manifesto – essentially ‘to grow the national wealth pie’:

  • Introduce a National Productivity Investment Fund – spend £23 bn by the end of the next parliament on housing, research and development, infrastructure and skills

  • In particular, by the end of 2020, invest:

    • £740m on things like broadband

    • £1.1 bn on local transport

    • More on railways

    • £250 m on training

  • But detail is lacking

  • And there’s no mention of any sector or national targets for closing apparent productivity gaps, nor any government accountability for making such things happen

  • Nor any specific support enabling private and public sector organisations to improve given they determine some 80% of total UK productivity – for example:

    • Re-establishing a UK Productivity Centre of Excellence

    • Setting up a National Best Practices database

    • Introducing good productivity and waste measures at all levels in all organisations so they at least know where they are now 

 Labour manifesto – essentially ‘to slice the national wealth pie differently’:

  • By 2030, i.e. well beyond when the present leadership have retired:

    • Generate 60% of energy from zero carbon or renewable sources

    • Develop the highest proportion of high-skilled jobs among OECD countries – promote skills through a National Education Service

    • Spend 3% of GDP on R&D

    • Invest £250 bn on infrastructure

  • But, again, detail is lacking

  • And, on top of this, they say many more police, firemen, nurses and doctors are to be recruited and existing public sector workers given significant pay rises to compensate for those they have been denied during the austerity years

  • Labour assume that simply pouring more resources and cash into struggling public services will solve their current problems when there’s huge waste in most of them – and often it’s method changes, not input volume increases, that’s needed

  • And there’s no mention of specific support/ incentives for private sector organisations and entrepreneurs to create the wealth to pay for all the above – they seem to think taxing ‘fat cats’ more heavily will produce the funds needed

Liberal Democrats manifesto:

  • They make no specific mention of productivity

  • However, they do promise to invest in the above areas viz:

    • Build 300,000 homes a year by 2022

    • Put £5bn into a new British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank

    • Set up a major capital investment programme across all UK

    • Invest in road and rail infrastructure

    • Bring more private investment into renewable energy

 Green Party manifesto:

  • Again, no mention of productivity

  • Introduce a four-day working week up to a maximum of 35 hours – they’ve spotted that ‘when people are exhausted, their productivity goes down’

  • Ensure a living wage for all

  • Introduction of a universal basic income

Meanwhile, many months ago, the Tory Government set up special inquiries into ‘better ways of measuring productivity’ and a PLG (Productivity Leadership Group) but we have yet to learn what difference such initiatives have made to improving the nation’s productivity

Conclusion:

Overall, one gets the impression that words about productivity issued by all UK political parties flow easily and superficially but serious practical action is lacking – the same as at board level in most organisations

 

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