The Chancellor has said he wishes to improve productivity as part of his drive for more jobs and higher living standards. He wants to exploit shale gas, improve the road and rail networks, relax planning restrictions to allow more building and investment, cut the costs of doing business by reducing regulation, improve education and training, and boost childcare.
The aim is a good one. Rising living standards require more people to be in work, more people to improve their qualifications and skills to command higher wages, more people working for themselves then going on to grow a small business with employees, and more efficient high quality public service to back all this up.
I want him to work with the Transport Secretary to improve the road networks. There is too much congestion, often resulting from poor junction design and from bottlenecks. Limited spending on allowing Councils to widen approaches to junctions to allow lane segregation of turning traffic from other traffic, more roundabouts in place of traffic lights, better phasing of traffic lights with traffic sensors and more main road priority,more bridges over railway lines and rivers would all help ease traffic jams and cut delays and costs for business and individuals. The government has embarked on raising motorway capacity by using hard shoulders as additional lanes, which is the quickest and cheapest fix to get more capacity. It now needs to address lack of capacity on the principal supporting A roads.
The government has an ambitious programme to increase the number of apprenticeships, and to raise the numbers of people gaining good quality vocational qualifications. The continuation of school reform is an important part of this process, ensuring that more pupils have sufficient skill at maths and English to be able to do the more advanced vocational courses.
The UK wishes to remain as a first world country with high living standards for all. Most people accept that it should always be worthwhile to work, and that those who work hardest and smartest should be better rewarded for their trouble. It is government’s task to enable many more to do well at school, to gain qualifications that give them access to better paid jobs, or to encourage them to work for themselves and set up businesses.