On day one of the Conservative Party Conference, the levelling-up secretary Simon Clarke said that levelling up was still “fundamental” to Liz Truss’s government – while his department, and indeed the UK, are preparing for a period of significant economic uncertainty.
Not only has Clarke been tasked with keeping levelling up alive, but his department will also be responsible for the delivery of Truss’s Investment Zone promises, which have grown from focusing on areas in the UK that need it most to ‘unlimited’ Investment Zones across the nation.
‘Growing the pie’ is all well and good – measures to stimulate growth in towns and cities across the UK should be applauded. However, in the current climate, this will also mean keeping a keen eye on costs. To stand a chance of delivering the PM’s ambitious growth plan, the government needs to commit to technology as an absolute priority to drive innovation and efficiency.
While Truss was resolute on the last day of conference that there must be no more status quo, and her government has made great efforts to differentiate itself from the Johnson administration, Clarke should be looking at initiatives his predecessors put in place.
If he is serious about stimulating growth and cutting costs without creating more instability, he needs to take a firm first step towards reinvigorating the Proptech Engagement Fund. By doubling down on the previous government’s commitment to planning reform and progress, the government will effectively be funding its own success, as the latest proptech can speed up crucial decision-making, cut costs in wasteful areas and bolster the efficiency of local authorities.
Streamlining technology as the solution must happen quickly. With the chancellor’s full Budget being brought forward by nearly a whole month at the end of October, timing is of the essence. And the Tories can’t afford to lose more time. Recent polling figures put Labour 33 points ahead – a drastic example of the need for change if they ever needed one.
In Truss’s words: “We can do better and we must do better.” Hopefully Clarke looks to industry and technology to heed her words.
Jamie Holmes, CEO, VU.CITY