A project that Michael Gove allegedly imitated being flushed down the toilet was given new life by last week’s fall statement.
Proponents believe a so-called ‘Oxford-Cambridge arc’ could bring billions to the economy by rivaling Silicon Valley, but it has been dropped as a priority as Boris Johnson’s administration has focused on the appeal to ‘Red Wall’ voters in the north of England.
The Arc is a vision to create a UK version of California’s innovation and technology hub between the two university towns and their neighbor Milton Keynes, through investments in infrastructure, housing and laboratories.
But setting out its plans in its first major statement when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced plans to help Britain challenge the home of Apple, eBay and Zoom.
A Treasury source insisted Mr Hunt was referring to the whole country when he spoke of Silicon Valley, but added that returning the Oxford-Cambridge project as a priority was “possible”.
Adam Hawksbee, acting director of the Onward think tank, said it was “great news if the OxCam Arc project is back on the cards – a lack of lab space and housing in and around some of our most productive economic centers is holding back growth. Upgrading needs to address these kinds of projects as well as interventions in the left-behind regions of the North.”
Former Labor minister Andrew Adonis, former chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), said he strongly supported a revival of the Arc, which he described as a ‘key growth priority’ for the country . “There is a massive shortage of housing and commercial/research facilities across the arc. And the transport links are dismal. All of this needs to be sorted out in a systematic way, as the NIC proposed when I was its founding president.
Earlier this year, the Financial Times reported that a Tory MP told a meeting of local voters in Cambridgeshire that when asked about the scheme, Mr Gove mimed him sitting on a toilet and pulling the chain, adding: “This is what happened to the Arc”.
Meanwhile, Mr Hunt is leaving some of his tax hikes out of control and letting them be decided “randomly” by inflation, a leading think tank has warned.
The Chancellor has presented himself as a sober politician who can undo the damage caused by Liz Truss’ disastrous mini-budget.
But Tom Waters, senior economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), said Mr Hunt’s approach in his autumn statement last week had been to freeze “everything he could put the money on”. main”, including the personal tax allowance and other thresholds.
“We’re in a world now where those metrics are going to be frozen in terms of cash flow for years and what a real tax is very much depends on what inflation will be,” he said.
“That means the real tax increase we face is a bit hit and miss, because of what happens to inflation.”
The phenomenon, part of what has been dubbed ‘stealth taxes’, will happen because as wages rise, the threshold at which workers start paying taxes will not be, thanks to the freeze. .
The Treasury has been approached for comment.