A business council established by Boris Johnson to reconstruct the UK after Covid has been criticised for being too London-centric and dealing with most of the nation with “contempt” after it emerged that all however five council members are based in or near the English capital.
Simply one of the 30 Build Back Better Council members is based in the north of England, 2 remain in the Midlands, one in Cambridge and one in Scotland. None work for firms headquartered in Wales or Northern Ireland. Twenty-two remain in London and 3 in commuter towns within 25 miles of the capital.
Revealing the council on Monday, Johnson said it would “level up opportunity for individuals and services across the UK”. He guaranteed it would “offer an essential online forum for frank feedback on our recovery strategies”.
However the geographical makeup of the council was criticised for drawing nearly solely from companies based in London or the commuter belt of the capital.
Nick Forbes, the leader of Newcastle city board, stated: “A lot for levelling up. We’re the only city with an A ranking for our CDP evaluation (demonstrating our aspiration and prepare for net zero by 2030), we’ve developed countless jobs in the city over the last years, we have actually won nationwide praise for our deal with dealing with homelessness, we have actually broken all our housebuilding targets and we’re the first city to have all care house locals vaccinated versus Covid. However the government doesn’t think they have anything to learn from us.”
Frank McKenna from UnitedCity, a pressure group set up to help services in Greater Manchester recuperate from the pandemic, said: “The something the government need to have learnt from the last 9 months, certainly, is that we can’t have a one-size-fits-all-approach to restoring our economy.”
McKenna, who likewise heads Downtown in Business, which unites companies in the north of England and the West Midlands, stated it wasn’t too late to widen the council’s membership. “Even at this stage I would state to Boris Johnson and his colleagues: this simply looks daft … At worst it appears like the north of England has actually been forgotten and is being treated with contempt once again.”
Henri Murison, the director of the Northern Powerhouse Collaboration thinktank, said: “A large part of the British service neighborhood, consisting of a variety of its most significant companies, is here– not least the majority of its significant supermarkets. It is crucial that discussions about key company concerns reflect that.”
A government representative defended the consultations, stating: “The Build Back Better Council members have substantial operations across the UK, utilizing tens of countless people in factories, R&D schools, stores and forecourts throughout the Midlands and the north of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
” Council members were picked because of their long-term dedication to the UK economy and their combined ability to increase business investment, get the economy moving and create jobs across the whole country.”
The council members include senior executives from business consisting of Google, Heathrow Airport, British Airways and Unilever. Outside London and the commuter belt there is the chief executive of Siemens, based in Manchester; the chief executives of Jaguar Land Rover and Severn Trent, both in Coventry; Sir Ian Wood of the engineering consultancy Wood in Aberdeen, and Poppy Gustafsson from the cyber-security firm Darktrace in Cambridge. The three business within 25 miles of the capital remain in Slough, Brentwood in Middlesex and Welwyn Garden City.