By devolving the skills and employment system we could better match supply with employer demand. The LGA’s Work Local proposals sets out a vision for a localised service, which would enable communities to design an offer customised to the individual need of their area.
- Across the UK all regions face distinct challenges to achieving economic growth in the future. These include lower than expected levels of productivity, shortages in the right mixture of homes, insufficient transport and digital infrastructure and a mismatch between skills provision and employer demand. Many of these challenges have persisted despite intervention from Whitehall. In order to unleash growth local areas across England must now be given greater control and investment.
- Devolving power to councils will be the key to building local economies. Policies such as the enhanced Towns Fund and Local Industrial Strategies (LIS), took a positive step towards recognising the importance of local leadership and of councils as key partners in driving sustainable growth. The National Infrastructure Commission has further recommend that councils should have ‘stable, devolved infrastructure budgets’. This is the most effective way for them to deliver improvements quickly in a way that complements local growth strategies.
- National policy developments have recently indicated a shift away from a focus on LIS. Councils have invested significant resources in the development of LIS and it is important that future growth policy takes account of this work and is developed within a coherent national framework backed by significant local devolution.
- The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) represents the ideal opportunity to empower communities to drive economic growth, increase prosperity and productivity and tackle deep rooted inequalities. Delivery of such change can best be achieved through a locally determined fund that operates alongside other funding the UK Government provides to help boost economic growth.
- By devolving the skills and employment system we could better match supply with employer demand. The LGA’s Work Local proposals sets out a vision for a localised service, which would enable communities to design an offer customised to the individual need of their area. New research shows that not meeting the skills needs of employers could lead to a potential loss of £120 billion in economic output by the end of the decade.
- The UK Government will be looking to renew its trading relationship with the world. Councils are well placed to help attract new business investment into communities and drive exports, particularly from small and medium sized enterprises that might fall through the gap of existing support structures. The LGA looks forward to working with the new Government to ensure that the expertise of local government can best be harnessed.
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Debate on the growth strategy for the UK, House of Commons, 21 January 2020