Jeremy Hunt’s Economic Growth Plan Explained

Jeremy Hunt raises a finger during speech
Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Feb 01, 2023
4 minutes read

The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a speech on Friday 27th January to outline the government’s plan for economic growth to make use of Brexit freedoms. The five priorities that were outlined in the speech were:

  • To halve inflation

  • To grow the economy

  • To reduce debt

  • To cut NHS waiting times

  • To stop illegal immigration by boat

Reducing inflation by around 10% is the biggest priority for the government. This will reduce pressure on the country through mounting costs on all sides. As such, a reduction in taxes will have to wait for the future when it would make more sense. If the government can reduce inflation by half before the next general election, it might put them in better stead with the population, which is at least what the Conservatives are thinking.

The UK has also suffered from slow growth, but this is different depending on who answers the question. Jeremy Hunt was quick to point out the benefits of the Brexit deal to allow more freedom of investment, mirroring what was said in the mini-budget last year. Ignoring the various strikes in the public sector, he tried to promote how Brexit could be used as a way of producing more economic growth.

There are four pillars of growth, according to Hunt, based on “enterprise”, “education”, “employment” and “everywhere”. As a framework, he said these are essential for any modern, innovation-led economy. It’s also, somehow, considered the way to address sustained growth in people’s incomes. Some critics have called for another E to be added: empty. Others have called for the missing “energy” and “exports” to be instated as their own pillars if we’re ever to see meaningful change in economic growth.

Jeremy Hunt also unveiled proposals for investment zones as a way of providing high-potential to underperforming areas as a way of attracting new investment. The government has been urged to make big decisions as a way of kick-starting a boost in the economy. Hunt also wanted to reform the process for green infrastructure to keep up with the demand in renewable technology.

Many people have said that there’s no real meat on the bones of this speech, but a lot of the criticism has come from the lack of settlement against the NHS pay dispute. Vital public services are under threat and the biggest issue over strike action wasn’t even acknowledged. The Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, also told schools to stay open, seemingly unwilling to resolve any strike action with teachers.

With the government looking to pass legislation to prevent strike action and also to cull protests, both workers’ rights and civil liberties are on the line. Is ignoring strike action and trying to prevent it a negotiating tactic? With so many strikes in the public sector, the government has to see that something they are doing is wrong. Even some sort of negotiation on pay is expected, and usual, in strikes, but the government is completely unwilling to do so.