Put Long-Term Planning 'At Heart' Of UK Politics, Urges Tory MP

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Simon Fell Tory MP for Barrow and Furness (Photo: London Portrait Photoqrapher-DAV - Houses of Parliament)
Simon Fell Tory MP for Barrow and Furness (Photo: London Portrait Photoqrapher-DAV - Houses of Parliament)

A Tory MP has urged the Government to put long-term planning at the heart of UK politics to stop major issues being “kicked down the road”.

Simon Fell, who won a so-called “Red Wall” seat at the 2019 election, said his constituents want politicians to do more long-term preparation.

The MP for Barrow and Furness has joined forces with Big Issue founder Lord John Bird on his bill that aims to stop policy-makers putting “sticking plasters” over problems from climate change to poverty.

They argue the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill will combat the issues caused by the five-year election cycle and enshrine a legal commitment to the wellbeing of future generations.

Fell told HuffPost UK the shake-up would “strengthen decision making” and help the government’s levelling up agenda - a core component of the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto.

He said the electoral system was designed to enable issues to be kicked down the road with short cycles in which policy-makers can “plot out” the “difficult” middle years.

Citing the government’s action on social care this week as an example, he added: “It’s really why that has been kicked down the road for what - 15 years now?

“There’s no incentive for government to really be making those tough choices.

“It’s far easier for the government to look at a problem and put a sticking plaster on it, rather than actually spend money upfront - which is probably going to be far less cash and have a far longer, more lasting impact if they invest that time, that money and resources upfront. But they are just not incentivised to do it.”

He said many of the problems the country had experienced during the pandemic would have been easier to manage if we had been better prepared.

“Frankly I think it would strengthen decision making,” he added.

Fell said long-term planning could help communities such as his stand on their own two feet, adding: “This just makes sense. It’s what the government should be in the business of doing. It aligns with the levelling-up agenda.

“It is not just how we deal with the problems of now, it’s how we deal with some of the most pressing issues we’ve got at the moment then it’s climate change, social care - this all requires long-term thinking and this bill will help the government.”

He made the comments as they launched a “Future Generations Commission” made up of experts across the four nations to promote the bill ahead of its second reading in the Commons.

The bill outlines a series of steps to achieve their aim which includes the government having to publish their progress on wellbeing goals, a future generations commissioner and parliamentary joint committee.

Wales has already enacted a similar bill and the Scottish government has also announced it will appoint a future generations commissioner to ensure decisions made today consider the impact on people in the future.

Crossbench peer Lord Bird added: “We are in desperate need for long-term thinking embedded in UK policy making. The pandemic has shown us all that we need to plan ahead properly.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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