Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, welcomes the Government’s modern industrial strategy. Conservatives need not worry about a proactive role for the state in our economy and have a long history of a strong state intervening to improve education and support businesses.
Commenting, Ryan Shorthouse, director of the liberal conservative think tank Bright Blue, said:
"The Government should and now does have a comprehensive and ambitious plan to support industry in Britain post-Brexit. Conservatives need not worry about a proactive role for the state in our economy: the state can help make markets more efficient and equitable through various powers it has, including spending, (de)regulating, guaranteeing and convening. Conservatives have a long history, including under Margaret Thatcher, of a strong state intervening to improve education and support businesses.”
Commenting, Ryan Shorthouse said:
"The Government is right to focus on simplifying and improving post-16 technical education in this country. But institutions that deliver such education, including Further Education Colleges and the new Institutes of Technology, will need a new funding model. There have been deep cuts to FE funding in recent years, whereas the Higher Education sector has seen significant increases in revenue as a result of the introduction and extension of student loans and the ability to charge higher tuition fees.
“The Government is right to want to introduce maintenance loans for those pursuing technical education. It should also extend such loans to those undertaking apprenticeships. If we are to create a high-quality, national system of technical education, then students will need the opportunity to live, train and work anywhere in the country, which such loans will enable them to do.
“To win the global race and succeed as a high-skilled, knowledge-based economy, the truth is that more Britons need to undertake higher education, whether at university or Institutes of Technology. Learners will need, and often do gain, both academic and technical skills at any type of higher education institution. Such education needs to be open to and pursued by people throughout their lives. To enable and encourage lifetime learning, the Government should give all adults a lifetime loan account to pay for an unlimited number and type of higher or technical education courses in their lives. To make it affordable to government and individuals, learners could pay back these loans on an income-contingent basis through the PAYE scheme when they are in work."
Bright Blue’s report Going Part-Time calls for a lifetime HE tuition fee loan account. All eligible adults from the UK and other EU aged 18 onwards should be entitled to access a lifetime HE tuition fee loan account from government to pay for tuition of any HE course - full-time or part-time - in England during their lifetime.
Commenting on the announcement of a review of the cost of decarbonisation in the power and industrial sectors, Sam Hall, researcher at Bright Blue, said:
"We welcome the Government's commitment to reducing the cost of decarbonisation. This is vital for keeping UK businesses competitive and the cost of living for households affordable. One of the simplest way for the Government to do this would be to leverage more private investment into domestic energy efficiency and decentralised renewables by offering 'Help to Improve' loan guarantees, thereby reducing the cost of capital. In addition, Ministers could reduce the cost of new energy infrastructure by enabling mature technologies such as onshore wind and solar to compete for zero-subsidy, fixed-price contracts."
Bright Blue’s report Better Homes; incentivising home energy improvements proposes that the government offer ‘Help to Improve’ loans to households, which would be a sister policy to ‘Help to Buy’. The loans should be underwritten by the government using the UK Guarantees scheme for infrastructure, which would reduce the interest rate below what it was under the Green Deal by passing on the government’s low borrowing costs.
Battery storage and ultra-low emission vehicles
Commenting on the reviews into battery storage and ultra-low emission vehicle sectors, Sam Hall, researcher at Bright Blue, said:
"The Government is right to highlight battery storage and ultra-low emission vehicles as being crucial sectors for the future of the UK economy. Providing a supportive policy framework for these domestic industries would increase economic productivity, while delivering important environmental policy objectives such as cutting harmful air pollution and reducing carbon emissions. Incentivising the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles could be achieved by enabling all English cities to set up low emission zones in pollution hotspots. This would provide a nudge to motorists to swap their diesel car for a cleaner, electric alternative."
Bright Blue’s air pollution campaign calls for all English cities to be enabled to introduce low emission zones.