Written evidence submitted but the Local Government Association (LGA) (LRS0009)

 


 

  1. About the Local Government Association (LGA)

 

1.1.               The Local Government Association (LGA) is the national voice of local government. We are a politically-led, cross-party membership organisation, representing councils from England and Wales. 

 

1.2.               Our role is to support, promote and improve local government, and raise national awareness of the work of councils. Our ultimate ambition is to support councils to deliver local solutions to national problems.

 

  1. Summary

 

2.1.               Local government has played a vital role leading the response to COVID-19. Throughout this period, councils have delivered at speed, working in partnership with national government to support local communities.

 

2.2.               As we turn our attention to tackling the significant economic challenges ahead, it is more important than ever that the Government reconsiders the growth funding and policy landscape to ensure it is fit for purpose and able to drive green and inclusive growth that achieves the Government’s levelling up ambitions.

 

2.3.               For too long national government has lacked a strategic and joined-up plan to drive local economies and empower local leaders to take action. Instead, national support for local growth has been characterised by a lack of coordination between departments and a complex framework of national funding and support. Previous LGA research found that £23 billion of public money was spent on growth, regeneration and skills, fragmented across 70 different national funding streams and managed by 22 government departments and agencies.[i] Similarly, the Industrial Strategy, launched in November 2017 has yet to fully harness the potential of local industrial strategies either by actively supporting their development nation-wide or by coherently demonstrating how locally developed evidence and strategies have informed national growth policy.

 

2.4.               The scale of the challenge ahead means that a new approach to growth and policy responsibility in England is now required, one that matches the place leadership of councils and their crucial role in convening wider public service delivery and investment with the need for locally tailored reconstruction and renewal.

 

2.5.               To deliver on this there must be greater devolution to councils. Local leaders need to have the powers and resources to bring government departments and agencies together to deliver locally determined and democratically accountable outcomes. The Government’s Devolution and Recovery White Paper must rethink the top down process of devolution seen over the last decade and set out a new English devolution baseline for their communities. It must turn the process the ‘right side up’, with local leaders bringing central government departments and agencies together to deliver locally determined and accountable outcomes for residents and businesses. Decisions on governance arrangements, spatial make-up and devolved policy levers cannot be taken in Whitehall but must be decided by local leaders. This reformed approach to devolution should form a central part of the national recovery strategy and should be developed in partnership between national and local government.

 

  1. Evidence base:

 

3.1.               Councils are exploring how they can use local levers to catalyse economic growth which benefits all residents. There are a range of approaches local government is adopting to achieve its goals, with local programmes seeking to ‘create an inclusive economy’, ‘drive inclusive growth’, support ‘wealth creation’ or spur on the ‘thrive agenda’. Whilst each strategy differs depending on local circumstances, they share the same overall goal – that no one is cut off from the proceeds of growth.

 

3.2.               As highlighted in research commissioned by the LGA[ii], evidence is crucial to designing, testing and successfully implementing growth strategies and interventions. The paucity of high quality, local data as standard is a key issue faced by councils keen to evaluate the success of local interventions. This is echoed in the sector’s ability to take the lead on meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in local areas. While the Office of National Statistics is able to report on 64 per cent of SDG indicators at a national level, research by the University of Bristol has estimated that only 17.2 per cent are applicable at the UK city level.[iii] The Industrial Strategy Council has also found that the existence of data gaps at the regional and local level hampered the quality and granularity of the data that could be compiled to support local industrial strategy (LIS) development and monitoring.[iv] Better availability of established datasets at smaller geographies, and the exploration of innovative datasets would be helpful in this regard.

 

3.3.               In order to better serve their local areas, councils have sought to curate their own evidence bases to identify key local challenges and track the success of policy interventions in tackling them. Examples include:

 

3.3.1.      Manchester City Council publishes a detailed State of the City Report annually which discusses progress against the Our Manchester Strategy including its goal for ‘a progressive and equitable city’.

 

3.3.2.      The West Midlands Combined Authority’s Inclusive Growth Unit publishes a regular audit to identify the inclusivity of jobs, skills, and growth outcomes across the city region.

 

3.4.               When measuring the success of inclusive growth approaches, councils have reported it is vital to include qualitative as well as quantitative analysis when evaluating public policy interventions. In terms of metrics, there are many different approaches to capturing this. Some involve identifying measures of inclusion to accompany measures of economic growth, while others effectively weigh the value of economic output by the extent to which other social goals are met into single indicators.

 

3.5.               These new methods of measuring the effectiveness of growth strategies come in place of traditional trickle-down economics metrics, which measure success through the increases in productivity and Gross Value Added. The same Industrial Strategy Council report found that a national policy narrative focused on increasing productivity has meant that important but less productive sectors such as agriculture, tourism, and culture have been largely omitted in LISs, even though they form a substantial part of many local economies.[v] Furthermore, the report found that many areas thought that the national LIS policy framework was sometimes too rigid to support their local growth strategies.[vi]

 

3.6.               To date, seven LISs have been published. The Government had aimed to agree all places’ LIS in England by early 2020. However, due to competing priorities, notably the UK’s departure from the EU and the COVID-19 response, further publications are “on hold.”[vii]

 

3.7.               In the formation of LISs, local areas used a diverse range of evidence gathering approaches to help inform the drafting of their priorities. Whilst some were able to build on previous economic reviews conducted within their boundaries, others aligned local datasets and involved local partners and experts in the process of building a fresh and new local evidence base. For many this included an intention to have a ‘live’ local evidence base that could provide new insights and could be continually built upon and refreshed.

 

3.7.1.      For Greater Manchester, the drafting of its LIS provided an opportunity to build on past work and update its local independent economic evidence base to produce the Manchester Independent Prosperity Review (MIPR) and provided the strategy with a robust and comprehensive evidence base with legitimacy that could stand the test of time. The independence of an expert panel provided the opportunity for external input to help partners look at the wider economy as a whole.

 

3.7.2.      The West Midlands used the strategy development process to further embed and develop its already strong shared evidence base that it uses across a wide range of organisations. This included commissioning some further specific analysis and giving a new focus to existing work on skills and productivity. For example, the work for the West Midlands and BEIS nationally on the business and professional services sector by Birmingham University has underpinned both the national sector deal and the West Midlands LIS.

 

3.8.               To help prioritise policy interventions it was also common practice for LIS areas to break down their regions into smaller areas in recognition of the amount of socioeconomic differences not only between regions but also within them, reflecting the importance of regional strategies aligning with local need.[viii]

 

3.9.               Many areas also engaged a broad range of local stakeholders from business, education, health and wellbeing and the community and voluntary sector, holding numerous events across local areas. Many found it especially important to engage with local businesses through local Chambers of Commerce and the CBI.[ix][x]

 

  1. Local structures:

 

4.1.               The UK is made up of a series of diverse local economies each with a different range of skills, economic and institutional assets as well as unique challenges to overcome and opportunities to be seized. As a result, a one size fits all approach to growth or local governance structures does not achieve the best outcomes for jobs and business.

 

4.2.               Across local areas, councils understand their communities better than any other part of the public sector and are uniquely placed to bring together business, partner organisations and communities to help protect jobs, livelihoods and local economies.

 

4.3.               Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, councils have stepped up to issue urgent grants and provide business relief to local organisations on behalf of the Government. Councils have worked at pace to distribute almost £11 billion to almost 880,000 eligible small businesses through the Small Business Grants Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund since March, and have worked with the Government to identify and meet gaps in support through an additional discretionary fund.

 

4.4.               The Government plans to close these three funding schemes on 28 August 2020. Any unclaimed funds will need to be returned to the Government. We estimate there could be a total underspend of £1.37 billion if the schemes close on this date.[xi] The Government should redistribute any unspent resources from this scheme, including any clawed back, to councils to be spent on local efforts to help further support businesses and reboot local economies as we move into the next phase of this crisis.

 

4.5.               Councils success in meeting the scale of the challenge posed by COVID-19 has underlined their role as the pre-eminent leaders of place. It has also highlighted the need to bring forward a recovery that addresses social as well as economic issues in a joined-up way. The Devolution and Recovery White Paper is a key opportunity for the Government to provide the broadest vision possible so that councils are able to determine for themselves how they meet the particular growth needs of their residents and businesses. Equally, in order to achieve these outcomes, it must be for councils to determine their local governance arrangements and how to organise collaboration with other institutions.

 

4.6.               Councils have evidenced how they work well with sub-national and local partners, and across the tiers of local government to deliver growth for their communities.

 

4.6.1.      In two-tier Suffolk, the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders (SPSL) group, which includes council leaders across tiers, the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Suffolk constabulary, New Anglia LEP and the CCGs, works on county-wide projects focused on tackling youth unemployment, the growing issue of county lines drug trafficking, as well as broader ambitions to achieve inclusive growth via large scale infrastructure bids for redevelopment and the roll out of full-fibre broadband. These innovative, place-based projects have used the retention and pooling of business rates to drive inclusive growth ambitions and bring together national and local ambitions through a place-based allocation.[xii]

 

4.6.2.      In Greater Manchester, the Combined Authority worked with its constituent members to leverage a commitment from the Government to co-design and commission a devolved equivalent to the national Work and Health programme. ‘Working Well’ was established to provide support to 5,000 Employment and Support Allowance benefit claimants who had completed the national Work and Health Programme but who were not able to find work. Working Well has adopted a whole population approach to Health, Skills and Employment. To support this approach further, a bespoke Working Well: Early Help Project was introduced in March 2019, which aims to support 11,000 people who are either at risk or are newly unemployed. At the heart of the Working Well programmes is the notion of providing intensive, personalised support, fully integrated with Greater Manchester’s public services and facilitated locally by each of the 10 Greater Manchester councils. To date, Working Well has supported over 4,500 people into work and has supported over 20,000 people with a complex range of skills and needs. This programme will run until 2024 and will provide support to a further 23,000 people.[xiii]

 

4.7.               In stark contrast to the success of local schemes, the current national approach to growth funding has struggled to address challenges and opportunities of achieving inclusive growth, better housing and infrastructure and green recovery. Previous LGA research found that £23 billion of public money was spent on growth, regeneration and skills, fragmented across 70 different national funding streams and managed by 22 government departments and agencies. [xiv]   

 

4.8.               The unprecedented challenge of economic and social recovery following the current crisis will require the Government’s levelling up ambitions and vision for devolution to be accelerated and expanded. Further formalising the requirement for a particular form of governance structure in order to access local devolution risks repeating a process that previously left large parts of non-metropolitan England unable to access vital powers over skills, transport and housing and kick-starting a distracting and time-consuming debate when councils up and down the country are keen to focus on the prosperity and well-being of their communities and businesses. Councils are the most suitable vehicle for monitoring and evaluating whether local or regional growth investment has achieved local priorities. Devolution must also empower them to take appropriate action where things need to be done differently and should free them from rigid tick box exercises created in Whitehall.

 

  1. Stakeholder engagement:

 

5.1.               Councils and combined authorities have used the drafting of local industrial strategies as a fresh opportunity to forge new, powerful relationships with the Government, business leaders, universities and local stakeholders for the benefit of local residents.

 

5.2.               There are currently eight Mayoral Combined Authorities (with a ninth Mayor in West Yorkshire due for election in May 2021) all of whom are now demonstrating the positive impacts of devolution to their local areas through the delivery of ambitious programmes of work in collaboration with their constituent councils. Crucially, devolution has allowed decisions to be made in a manner that is more accountable to local populations and responsive to their needs than a decision-making process operating from Whitehall.

 

5.3.               In the collaborative spirit of their creation, combined authorities and their constituent councils are demonstrating the positive impact of effective partnership working across sectors to support research, development and delivery of local outcomes and draw in external expertise to tackle local economic and public service challenges. This is well-demonstrated by the distinctive role of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in combined authority areas in which they provide private sector expertise and challenge to drive and inform local decision-making.

 

5.3.1.      In County Durham, the county council has worked closely with private sector developers to secure enabling infrastructure works, including funding via the LEP and delivered by the county council, to ensure vital upfront infrastructure are delivered to The Integra 61 manufacturing and logistics hub (A1M Junction 61), alongside new homes. This development will unlock up-to 4,000 jobs in sectors that are vital to the economic recovery from Covid-19.

 

5.4.               In terms of judging the effectiveness of combined authorities in engaging a wide range of stakeholders on growth, it remains important to see their creation and the transfer of powers to them as a process rather than a one-off event. A new localism settlement needs to move beyond individual deals to a package of sustainably funded, locally-led public service reform to truly enable combined authorities and other tiers of local government to engage in a more meaningful way with local stakeholders.

 

5.5.               Councils have worked alongside and as part of LEPs since their establishment in 2011, to develop a strategic vision for local economies. This collaboration has helped align public investment across local areas and crucially, has ensured local accountability through local government’s democratic mandate. While relationships between councils and LEPs can vary, many areas report good working arrangements locally.

 

5.6.               LEPs are currently responsible for significant amounts of growth funding which places emphasis on their capacity to deliver critical investment in local infrastructure and skills, but also highlights the importance of clear democratic accountability in relation to this investment. Reviews into LEP progress that call into question both their capacity to deliver and their accountability arrangements are therefore of great concern.

 

5.7.               A review by the National Audit Office into LEP progress concluded that the Government does not understand individual LEPs’ capacity to carry out their work or meet new governance standards. These findings were reflected in an inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee which concluded:

 

5.7.1.      The Department [MHCLG] has no real understanding of the impact which the Local Growth Fund has had on local economic growth.

5.7.2.      There is a long way to go before all LEPs are held to account and their work scrutinised effectively.

5.7.3.      LEPs continue to underspend their funding allocation each year, calling into question their capacity to deliver complex projects. [xv]

 

5.8.               With research carried out by the LGA revealing that just 20 per cent of people know that their LEP exists or what it is responsible for, questions remain as to whether LEPs are sufficiently accountable to local communities.[xvi] As currently constituted, there are therefore questions around whether they are fit for purpose given the significant amounts of public funding they oversee.

 

5.9.               The findings also indicate that national LEP reforms, which pose a risk to the strength of local partnership working and democratic accountability, do not represent a step in the right direction. Government must use the Devolution and Recovery White Paper to clarify the role of councils, LEPs and MCAs and assess whether the current model is fit for purpose.

 

  1. Sustainable local economies:

 

6.1.               It is essential that as a nation we tackle climate change and protect our natural environment. We need to continue to improve air quality, protect against flooding, and ensure our transport, planning, waste and energy policies are sustainable. Councils are well placed to deliver on environmental goals, mitigate the impacts of climate change and support their communities to adapt to future changes.

 

6.2.               Around 230 councils have declared a climate emergency, and nearly two-thirds of councils in England aim to be carbon neutral by 2030. Nottingham City Council, for example, has committed to becoming the first carbon neutral city in the UK by 2028. Nottingham’s Charter sets out a vision for sustainable carbon neutrality on behalf of the Council and the city’s Green Partnership, a collaboration with local, national, and international partners. In 2017 results showed a CO2 reduction of 41 per cent for the city and 49 per cent per person since 2005.

 

6.3.               As we move towards a green economic recovery, we will need to address unprecedented levels of unemployment, have a clear line of sight of where and when jobs will be created, and ensure that skills investment is linked to this. Local government understands the needs of business and its communities better than any other part of the public sector, and councils believe they are best placed to work with employers and skills providers to ensure local communities can benefit from new jobs. 

 

6.4.               LGA commissioned analysis by Ecuityiii estimates that there could be 700,000 direct total jobs in England’s low-carbon and renewable energy economy by 2030, up from 185,000 in 2018. Moreover, between 2030 and 2050, the low-carbon workforce could increase by a further 489,000, taking the total number of jobs to more than 1.18 million by 2050.  

 

6.5.               Nearly half will be in clean electricity generation and providing low-carbon heat for homes and businesses (manufacturing wind turbines, installing solar panels and installing heat pumps). Around 40 per cent of jobs will be involved in installing energy efficiency products, such as insulation, lighting and control systems; providing low-carbon services, including financial, legal and IT; and producing alternative fuels, such as bioenergy and hydrogen. The remainder will be directly involved in manufacturing low-emission vehicles and the associated infrastructure.

 

6.6.               Importantly these jobs are projected to be generated across England’s local authorities and regions. More than 420,000 of these are forecast in the North; nearly 200,000 in the Midlands; almost 120,000 in the East; and nearly 450,000 in London and the South.  

 

6.7.               As demand for green jobs increases it will require a diverse range of skills and expertise to roll-out clean technologies. However, for too long employment and skills support has been centrally driven, meaning it often fails to meet and respond to, local need. Increased and better-targeted skills investment, channelled through councils and combined authorities working in tandem with businesses and education providers, is needed to train and retrain young people and older workers so they can benefit from these new local opportunities.

 

6.8.               The LGA has developed Work Local as a practical vision for an integrated and devolved employment and skills service.[xvii] Combined authorities and groups of councils, working in partnership with local and national partners, would have the powers and funding to plan, commission and oversee a joined-up service. Bringing together advice and guidance, employment, skills, apprenticeships and business support for individuals and employers.

 

6.9.               Based on analysis of an anonymised medium sized combined authority, an integrated, Work Local model could lead to additional fiscal benefits for a local area of £280 million per year, with a benefit to the economy of £420 million. This would be associated with an additional 8,500 people leaving benefits, an additional 3,600 people achieving Level 2 skills, and an additional 2,100 people achieving Level 3.[xviii]

 

6.10.          The leadership of net zero and skills-based priorities must be led by local government and its partners, not by central government alone. Skills and training provision will therefore need to be receptive to the distinctive needs of different places, with the foundations for ensuring this is rooted in a place-based offer.

 

6.11.          Councils are committed to working with the Government to keep local economies moving, support business and entrepreneurs to innovate, help people into quality jobs, modernise working practices and by doing so, level up across the whole country. With millions of people displaced from the labour market and needing to find work and reskill, we need to focus on aligning job creation and employability measures, so no community is left behind. To make this happen, we need a co-designed, locally integrated and delivered employment and skills offer within a broad, flexible national policy and funding framework. This could be developed through:

 

6.11.1.  National Cobra response panel for jobs and skills to maintain political focus, urgency of action and dialogue, bringing together national government, local and combined authorities, sector and trade representatives and key stakeholders. 

 

6.11.2.  Local jobs and skills taskforces to coordinate a local plan using existing structures which recognises the different needs and delivery routes within places bringing relevant partners together to pool local expertise and coordinate resources, building on ‘rapid response’ models to support a green economic recovery.

 

6.11.3.  A multi-year, flexible, outcome driven local funding pot combining careers advice, back to work, training support (increased AEB plus National Skills Fund and National Retraining Scheme), some apprenticeship funding and EU funds / UK Shared Prosperity Fund (with additional national resources as required). This will help local partners make swift decisions including how to retrain those on furlough and out of work. If councils had the powers to strategically plan, and pool public apprenticeship levy funds they could address supply and demand side issues, widen participation to disadvantaged groups and specific cohorts.

 

6.12.          The types of support that will be needed include the following:

 

6.12.1.  Employment support should be scaled up with contracting widened beyond ‘prime providers’ including local discretionary or devolved programmes and others including charities, housing associations, colleges and training providers.

 

6.12.2.  As young people will be hardest hit, we welcome Government investment into new and existing support for young people including Kickstart, the youth offer, sector-based work academies, apprenticeships, T levels and traineeships. Young people will need a coherent local offer and this can only be brought together by local government.

 

6.12.3.  The Government should increase apprenticeship levy flexibilities – including local pooling of public levy funds - and devolve non-levy apprenticeships, so that local government can strategically plan provision across the area, address supply / demand side issues, target local sectors (including green jobs), widen participation to disadvantaged groups and specific cohorts, and meet businesses’ recruitment needs and move more people in work including through ‘training agency’ models.

 

6.12.4.  To support adults to find work or reskill, the Government should work with local government to co-design support for the long-term unemployed and plan how increased and re-purposed skills funds can retrain adults into local in-demand jobs (local green jobs, social care etc) through flexible, adjustment courses with maintenance grants. It should be funded by at least doubling and fully devolving the Adult Education Budget, bringing forward National Skills Fund and National Retraining Scheme budgets, and publicly funding Level 3 qualifications.

 

6.13.          Moving beyond recovery and thinking ahead to the Devolution and Recovery White Paper, this is a unique opportunity to Re-think local.[xix] The Government should back and fund the trialling of the LGA’s Work Local’ model,[xx] an integrated and devolved employment and skills system. This should be used as blueprint for a skills and employment devolution that works for all people and places.

 

  1. Targeted regional investment:

 

7.1.               Councils have wide-ranging experience curating portfolios of shovel ready infrastructure projects primed for investment either by government or private investors. This evidences the strong link that councils can provide between the identification and development of infrastructure projects and driving an uplift in local growth and the creation of local jobs.

 

7.1.1.      Curzon Street station in central Birmingham will be the first new intercity station built in Britain since the 19th century and the implications for the project are much wider than just transport improvements. The Curzon Street Investment Plan will see £900 million spent on regenerating the area around the new station, leading to the creation of several new neighbourhoods across almost 150 hectares, including 4,000 homes and 36,000 jobs. Through the development of this landmark transport hub, Birmingham City Council is also working to attract investment in numerous related infrastructure projects to regenerate nearby areas and brownfield sites in particular.

 

7.1.2.      The DfT and Worcestershire County Council are funding a new bypass in Worcester which will halve peak journey times along the A4440, relieving congestion for residents and businesses, and boosting jobs and economic growth in areas like Great Malvern by transforming access to the M5, Birmingham International Airport and Worcestershire Parkway Station. The £62 million cost of building the new dual carriageway will be footed primarily through a DfT grant, topped up by council funding whilst the anticipated benefits of this expenditure for the local area are expected to come not only via improved journey times for commuters and businesses but also through the creation of more than 6,000 jobs and the development of up to 5,600 new homes.

 

7.2.  These case studies evidence the role that councils can play working with communities, the wider public sector and businesses to protect jobs and promote local growth. In comparison, national growth policy can often deter areas from focusing on key specialisms of relevance to place. Areas can be curtailed from making these local links by national policy which can be too rigidly focused on broader national ambitions. A common concern expressed by LIS areas was that government’s focus on tackling the Grand Challenges reduced emphasis on other key sectors of their local economies.[xxi]

 

7.3.               In terms of research institutes, universities are anchor institutions in their local economies and play vital roles as local employers, estate owners and bodies which procure local services. Across the country, councils work in close collaboration with research and develop institutions to drive inclusive growth that benefits local businesses and residents.

 

7.4.               As far as possible investment into research and development should be designed to deliver wider benefits for institutes’ surrounding places. This can be achieved through supporting collaboration between local institutions and drawing on existing strategies such as locally developed science and innovation audits to drive innovative growth that meets the needs of communities and economies across the country.

 

  1. Regional funding:

 

8.1.               The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) is a significant opportunity to promote local growth, reduce regional disparities and drive economic recovery. However, this can only be achieved by making UKSPF a localised, place-based fund that is accountable to local people and places.

 

8.2.               Councils and combined authorities should drive the design, prioritisation, commissioning and oversight of the UKSPF, which should be allocated in line with local need, deliver locally determined outcomes and support the move towards a single pot for growth funding that is long term. The Government has said the UKSPF will be at least the same amount as the current European Structural and Investment Funds programme (ESIF, 2014-20) programme. It should also match the amount of any other domestic or European funds that are being included in the UKSPF.

 

8.3.               We have called for the Government to bring forward proposals for the UKSPF at pace and codesign the fund with councils and combined authorities to underpin local efforts to drive economic recovery in the medium-long term.

 

8.4.               We have some concern about the potential for a ‘gap’ between the end of the ESIF programme and the beginning of the new UKSPF. The Government needs to ensure that there is funding certainty so important local projects are able to continue.

 

8.5.               We are not aware of discussion with the European Investment Bank about third-country access to the loans and guarantees the bank has previously provided to local projects in the UK. We would welcome further detail as to the Government’s intentions through the British Business Bank to replace the financial projects that used to be accessed via the European Investment Bank.

 

  1. Project Speed:

 

9.1.               The appropriate development of infrastructure is key to driving a green and inclusive recovery. Access to infrastructure such as energy, digital connectivity and transport contributes greatly to the productivity of private investment and an economy’s competitiveness. Moreover, physical infrastructure plays a central role in meeting the needs of individuals and communities’ ambitions including the ability to live in an affordable, good quality home that is reasonably close to their place of work.

 

9.2.               For the Government to bring forward public investment projects more strategically and efficiently it must ensure alignment at a national level between government investment with local growth and housing needs as well as local priorities and investment plans.

 

9.3.               This needs to be underpinned by a locally-led planning system that ensures councils and local communities have the ability to shape the area they live in, ensures homes are built to high standards with the necessary infrastructure in place, and secures funding for affordable homes. This also requires building on existing partnerships within the market will lead to longer-term and more sustainable solutions to support local ambitions.

 

9.4.               Councils already work with neighbours and other partners and are best placed to ensure that infrastructure investment meets the needs of residents and businesses, aligns with local industrial and economic strategies, as well as providing direct local democratic accountability.

 

9.5.               The Government’s approach to future infrastructure delivery, as well as its to-be-published National Infrastructure Strategy (NIS) should take account of the recommendations of The National Infrastructure Assessment and ensure a more local approach to delivering capital investment, ensuring councils are at the heart of delivering infrastructure for communities.[xxii]

 

9.6.               The NIS will also be an opportunity to implement the recommendations of the National Infrastructure Commission to ensure councils have ‘stable, devolved infrastructure budgets, as Highways England and Network Rail have’, which would mean providing councils with a funding allocation in advance for five years. This is the most effective way for us to deliver infrastructure improvements quickly in a way that complements local growth strategies. It is also important that councils have access to sufficient revenue funding in order to ensure that the right capital investments are made, that infrastructure can be properly maintained and enable the levering in of private investment.

 

9.7.               Councils would also like to bring forward investment plans to support local recovery and to help with this councils need greater powers and flexibilities devolved at pace so that they can get on and deliver an effective and sustainable recovery for their communities and local businesses.

 

9.8.               For the short to medium term, councils are keen to stabilise local economies and have called on the Government to bring flexibility and speed to funding programmes. This includes bringing forward council-led investment programmes including all current grant schemes such as Housing Infrastructure Fund, the Future High Streets Fund, Stronger Towns Fund/ Growth Funds and Local Transport Schemes. This can be done through expediting allocations; relaxing conditions so that councils can get on and deliver; greater focus on delivery not process; by enabling flexibility on use of funding streams; and extending deadlines and flexibilities on completion timescales.

 

9.9.               We have also called for the Government to bring forward UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) proposals at pace to help underpin local efforts to drive medium and long-term economic recovery.

 

 

August 2020

 


[i] https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Is%20the%20grass%20greener%20-%20fragmented%20funding%202016-17.pdf

[ii] Developing Successful Local Industrial Strategies https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/FINAL_Metro%20Dynamics%20LIS%20report.pdf

[iii] Bristol One City Plan. Press release (January 2019). https://bristolgreencapital.org/bristol-launches-firstever-one-city-plan/

[iv] https://industrialstrategycouncil.org/sites/default/files/attachments/Understanding%20the%20policy-making%20processes%20behind%20local%20growth%20strategies%20in%20England.pdf

[v] https://industrialstrategycouncil.org/sites/default/files/attachments/Understanding%20the%20policy-making%20processes%20behind%20local%20growth%20strategies%20in%20England.pdf

[vi] iBid

[vii] https://industrialstrategycouncil.org/sites/default/files/attachments/Understanding%20the%20policy-making%20processes%20behind%20local%20growth%20strategies%20in%20England.pdf

[viii] iBid

[ix] https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/LIS%20Lessons%20Learned%20-%20Final%20Report.pdf

[x] https://industrialstrategycouncil.org/sites/default/files/attachments/Understanding%20the%20policy-making%20processes%20behind%20local%20growth%20strategies%20in%20England.pdf

[xi] https://www.local.gov.uk/ps1-billion-loss-local-economies-if-covid-19-grant-schemes-closed

[xii] LGA County and District Collaboration Report – to be published.

[xiii] https://www.local.gov.uk/work-local-greater-manchester-working-well-0

[xiv] https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Is%20the%20grass%20greener%20-%20fragmented%20funding%202016-17.pdf

[xv] Local Enterprise Partnerships: progress review, Public Accounts Committee (2019)

[xvi] https://www.local.gov.uk/about/news/lga-responds-pac-report-concerns-over-lepspending-

and-accountability

[xvii] Local Government Association, Work Local https://www.local.gov.uk/topics/employment-and-skills/work-local

[xviii] Local Government Association, Work Local https://www.local.gov.uk/topics/employment-and-skills/work-local

[xix] https://www.local.gov.uk/about/campaigns/re-thinking-local/re-thinking-local-skills-and-green-economy

[xx] https://www.local.gov.uk/work-local-making-our-vision-reality

[xxi] https://industrialstrategycouncil.org/sites/default/files/attachments/Understanding%20the%20policy-making%20processes%20behind%20local%20growth%20strategies%20in%20England.pdf

[xxii] https://www.nic.org.uk/publications/national-infrastructure-assessment-2018/