Debate on national productivity, House of Commons, 22 January 2020

Local government continues to lead the way in the public sector to improve outcomes for people while making savings for the public purse. The LGA’s Productivity Experts Programme forms part of our sector-led improvement (SLI) offer. Since 2012, we have worked with over 174 councils contributing to £194 million worth of savings and income generation.


Key messages

  • Across the UK, all regions face distinct challenges to future growth. These include lower than expected levels of productivity and a mismatch between skills provision and employer demand. These challenges are long-standing and have persisted despite intervention from Whitehall. A one-size fits all is therefore insufficient to meet the needs of individual places.
  • Local government continues to lead the way in the public sector to improve outcomes for people while making savings for the public purse. The LGA’s Productivity Experts Programme forms part of our sector-led improvement (SLI) offer. Since 2012, we have worked with over 174 councils contributing to £194 million worth of savings and income generation.
  • Devolving power to councils will be the key to improving productivity, building local economies, and delivering better outcomes. Policies such as the enhanced Towns Fund and the Local Industrial Strategies (LISs) took a positive step towards recognising the importance of local leadership and of councils as key partners. The National Infrastructure Commission has further recommended that councils should have ‘stable, devolved infrastructure budgets’. This is an effective way for them to deliver improvements quickly in a way that complements local growth strategies and economic productivity.
  • 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. Elected mayors and local leaders, should be given the opportunity to co-design the UKSPF and ensure that other future growth funding is more accessible, based on local need and distributed over the longer term. 
  • 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.
  • Government programmes, such as the National Skills Fund and the Apprenticeship Levy, seek to address the skills gap but Government will need new policy levers to ensure these different initiatives focus and link up at the front line. Councils are the natural partners of Government to provide this support and make the best of the current system.

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Debate on national productivity, House of Commons, 22 January 2020