By Matthew Barrett
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Lord Heseltine's recent report ("No Stone Unturned") into growth was correctly welcomed from a distance. That is to say that Lord Heseltine was given a wide remit to examine many different areas of government as he saw fit. His report wasn't merely a proxy for a Minister or Secretary of State's views. Lord Heseltine is his own man.
That being so, there was, as Andrew Lilico identified, a lot of corporatism. Lord Heseltine relies far too much on unelected representatives of the private sector (often from "trade associations") working with government bodies to produce favourable outcomes, and has too much faith in Local Enterprise Partnerships. He also recommends that civil servants should be tasked with picking how best to organise local economies. He also relies far too much on blurring the lines between private and public sector. For example, one of his 89 recommendations states that:
"At the earliest opportunity civil servants based across the country should be brigaded into Local Growth Teams, structured around clusters of LEPs, primarily tasked with joining up government and local partners in the areas of their responsibilities to facilitate, identify and realise economic opportunities."
There is also the amusingly sinister sounding Recommendation 30:
"Government departments should offer all major sectors of the economy the opportunity to form a relationship with government."
Excepting the corporatist approach of some recommendations, there are good ideas to be found - for example, on increasing private sector involvement in delivering public services (without attempting to merge the two), on getting the public sector to assess how much regulations cost the economy, and on increasing financial education in schools.