Responding to today’s publication of the Industrial Strategy White Paper, Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Environment, Housing and Transport spokesman, said:
“The White Paper’s recognition of the crucial role of place is encouraging. If we are to have a successful modern and globally competitive economy, which enables everyone to succeed, it is essential that the Industrial Strategy recognises the strengths and opportunities that each area brings and the vital contribution of local government.
“Council leaders are committed to working with business leaders to boost productivity and growth, but if we are to play a full part, we quickly need to develop a national regional aid scheme to replace all existing EU regeneration funding and a devolved approach to skills and infrastructure that ensures that every local economy and individual has the potential to prosper.
“In particular, it is critical that all new skills initiatives - including the advisory panels and national retraining programme - join up across places, balancing national priorities with the varying needs of our local communities and businesses. Councils’ efforts are essential in bringing this together.
“Local industrial strategies provide a fresh opportunity for Government, business leaders, universities and local councils to forge new, powerful relationships with each other, for the benefit of local residents, as well as underlining the need for new devolution deals across the country.
“Councils have a unique leadership role in developing local industrial strategies – but they need to be able to draw on the right powers and adequate funding to deliver successful and inclusive economies.
“The review of Local Enterprise Partnerships is an important opportunity to secure an even stronger partnership between business and public sector leaders, and as key partners, it is essential that councils across the country play a full part in the review.
“It is encouraging to see the Paper state that investment decisions need to be more geographically balanced and include more local voices.There needs to be greater recognition of councils’ wide role in boosting productivity that ranges from civic leadership and plan-making to local infrastructure and public health.
“While the White Paper rightly includes an ageing society as one of its “Grand Challenges”, preventing sick days and lost productivity due to poor health and lifestyle choices should be a priority for any industrial strategy.”