A former chief economist at the Bank of England has been asked to breathe life into Boris Johnson’s troubled “flattening” agenda in a fresh government shake-up.
Andy Haldane will lead a new Cabinet Office taskforce, as No. 10 declares policy its “central mission,” despite fears that the COVID pandemic will return in winter.
The resolution to “flatten every part of the UK” has been close to crisis since the prime minister’s speech flopped in July, when it was universally attacked for lack of any details.
The Ministry of Housing is now being renamed the Department of Leveling Up, Housing and Communities after it was handed over to Michael Gove in a cabinet reshuffle last week.
A white paper being put together by the high-ranking Neil O’Brien, now a junior minister in the department, will be published ahead of next month’s crucial three-year spending review.
And Mr Haldane will lead a “leveling up taskforce” as a permanent secretary in the Cabinet Office on a six-month break from his chief executive position at the Royal Society of Arts.
Mr Haldane, who worked at the Bank of England for 22 years before leaving the job this year, said: “Leveling the UK is one of the signature challenges of our time. It has also been a personal passion throughout my professional career.
“I look forward to working with colleagues from the government, local and national, and private and voluntary sectors to design and deliver an economy that works for every part of the UK.”
Two months ago, in Coventry, Mr Johnson admitted he had only the “skeleton” of a plan to flatten the country, after being challenged that he had failed to determine how to deal with “inequalities”. .
Even Conservative MPs have acknowledged that the “slogan” lacks essence and is currently coined as “means all things to all people”, as one put it.
Mr Johnson has been accused of undercutting it with spending cuts, a failure to develop meaningful power and a “political bias” in delegating government money.
Downing Street hopes that everything will change with policy in the hands of Mr Gove, who has a record of driving through education, justice and environmental change throughout his cabinet career.
He said: “I am thrilled that the PM has asked me to lead this government’s defining mission, the leveling agenda.
“Our continued focus will be on delivering to those overlooked families and undervalued communities in the United Kingdom.”
Mr Gove will also enjoy the title of “Minister of Intergovernmental Relations”, who has been charged with advancing the Union and defeating the threat of Scottish independence.
He must also find a way to salvage the controversial loosening of the planning laws, which he has “stopped” after a rebellion by Tory lawmakers.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /