MPs question Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ “vague” productivity plan

Productivity plan "must avoiding collecting dust on Whitehall bookshelves" by including concrete measures of success, BIS committee says

By Josh May

01 Feb 2016

MPs have criticised the quality of the government’s productivity plan, describing it as a “vague collection of existing policies”.

The government launched its plan for how the UK could catch up with international competitors last summer.

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee said this morning the measurements for progress in the plan were “virtually non-existent”.

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“In recent years other countries have stormed ahead with productivity gains and we need to catch up,” committee chairman Iain Wright said.

“As a committee we welcome the government’s focus on tackling this crucial issue for the UK economy. However, rather than being a clear and distinctive roadmap as to how Britain will close our productivity gap, the productivity plan is a vague collection of existing policies…

“If the productivity plan is going to avoid collecting dust on Whitehall bookshelves and having a legacy of being seen as worthy but useless, then the government needs to back it up by setting out how these policies are going to be implemented and how their success will be measured.”

The MPs said the government did not consult properly with businesses before setting a target of creating three million new apprenticeships by 2020, and they called on ministers to “set out the rationale and evidence base” for the goal.

The government has also not yet “provided enough detail” on how its apprenticeship levy will work in practice, the MPs said.

A spokesman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said: “The reforms set out in our productivity plan are delivering a step change that will secure long term investment in people, capital and ideas. As the select committee notes, boosting productivity is not as quick and simple as pulling a lever.”

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