Responding to the Heseltine Report, Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:
"Lord Heseltine is absolutely right to champion the role of local areas in delivering growth. This report provides clear evidence that giving local areas more power and funding to nurture business opportunities is absolutely essential to national economic recovery.
"The coalition has ruled out top-down structural reform of local government, so the issue is a moot point. The more urgent priority for councils is helping local businesses to drive growth and create jobs, and the report proposes a number of helpful measures. As well as empowering local areas it is important that central government agencies also do their bit to promote growth.
"We endorse Lord Heseltine's idea of bringing money from different Whitehall departments into a single pot to fund skills, transport and support for SMEs. Local economies are complex and national funding streams are not always as coordinated, flexible and responsive as we need them to be in order to get projects off the ground in good time.
"It is important that Whitehall hands responsibility for administering any money to sub-regional areas so that it can be awarded based on local needs, rather than an inflexible set of national criteria. This will help avoid creating perverse outcomes, such as the shocking skills mismatch in this country which, among other things, last year saw fewer than 40,000 people trained to fill around 72,000 new jobs in the building and engineering trades.
"It is pleasing to see an acknowledgement that there are variations in the economic potential of different regions. It is important that all areas benefit from national economic recovery and that those places with less potential for short-term growth are not left behind."
Author: Dale Atkinson, LGA Media Office
Contact: LGA Media Team, Telephone: 020 7664 3283
12 November 2012