Boris Johnson’s flagship plan to reduce the UK’s regional inequalities will only be worked out in 2022, after a government white paper detailing the proposals has been moved into the new year.
Michael Gove, the minister in charge of the plan, is expected to produce the blueprint before Christmas, but government officials said the political calendar is busy and it is “important to get it right”.
In September, Gove received the order for equality from the prime minister, who promised to help the UK’s “backward people”.
Allies of Gove said it wanted to broaden and deepen the government’s devolution agenda “in some areas, possibly through the creation of more mayors in England, and that the white paper was full of ideas. The goal would be to kick off the new year with the initiative, they added.
The Labor Party fears that the government will be reluctant to give new powers to people like Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, and that the devolution agenda has come to a standstill.
Gove’s allies declined to comment on a report in The times that he is considering setting up a leveling quango to monitor every aspect of government policy for its impact on regional inequalities.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has made it clear that Gove needs to fund his plan within budgets for Whitehall departments that were set during the Treasury’s spending review in October.
Lisa Nandy, Gove’s Labor shadow, said: “The government is in total disarray. Two years after the general election, the main cabinet ministers can not even agree on what equality is.
“Now the big idea that emerges is more boards, bureaucracy and quangos. It is becoming increasingly clear that they did not have the first idea of how to fulfill the great promises they made. ”
Sunak’s priority is to focus on how to lower taxes rather than ways to increase spending. He instructed the treasury officials to devise tax reform to reduce the tax burden on working people.
The chancellor’s allies said Sunak had asked the treasury to focus on “personal taxes and taxes with a direct link to household costs”. A reduction in income tax rates or value added tax are the most important reform options.
But Sunak acknowledged that uncertainty surrounding the Omicron coronavirus variant and other economic winds, including inflation, makes it difficult to say when he might be in a position to cut taxes.
Sunak’s enthusiasm for future tax cuts may in part be an attempt to offset Tory’s criticism of the chancellor’s recent record of tax increases: they will soon be at their highest level since 1950.
As part of its effort to find room for tax cuts, Sunak will hold regular “star-studded” sessions with Johnson to hold ministers accountable for their departmental spending plans and to target waste.
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a think tank, said it would be “indefensible” for Sunak to cut income taxes before the next election, so soon after the national insurance rates in the form of a health and social care care has been increased. fee.
“To introduce the health and social care levy, which essentially only affects workers, then to reduce income taxes, which also benefits people who receive their income from rent, occupational pensions and other possessions, discriminates in favor of the rich,” he said. he added.