LGA Industrial Strategy Briefing: 1 December 2017

This briefing summarises the main announcements in the industrial strategy of relevance to local government and sets out the Local Government Association’s response.

The White Paper sets out the Government’s final plans for supporting Britain’s industrial sectors, improving productivity, driving growth across the country and making British business more competitive. This White Paper follows on from January’s consultative Green Paper to which the Local Government Association (LGA) responded calling for a place-based approach. The strategy is structured under five foundations of productivity: ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment, and places. It draws together in one place a range of new and existing policy and related funding.

This briefing summarises the main announcements in the industrial strategy of relevance to local government and sets out the Local Government Association’s response. The full White Paper and associated announcements can be found on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy website:

Key messages

  • As we embark on leaving the European Union, the Government’s industrial strategy provides a critical opportunity to drive the creation of a successful, world-leading economy. We welcome the strong focus on place as one of the five foundations of productivity and the building block of local industrial strategies. We are committed to working with businesses, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), and partners to develop ambitious strategies, many of which will need devolved powers and budgets in order to deliver benefits to local communities. 
  • Tackling economic imbalances and driving growth in all areas of the country is not a simple project. It can neither remain a static document nor be driven top-down from Whitehall, but should reflect the geographic and economic diversity of Britain.
  • If we are to have a successful, modern and globally competitive economy, one 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. 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.
  • The new skills initiatives - including the advisory panels and national retraining programme – are an important step in addressing our skills challenges, but they will only work if they are planned and coordinated locally and aligned with other initiatives to target training of the current and future workforce.  We urge the Government to work with us and councils on implementing our Work Local proposals so that the whole skills system can be made coherent for local people and more effective for local businesses.
  • Councils have a unique understanding of their local economies, with ownership over the key levers of local growth, including strategic infrastructure planning, land use planning and strong sub-regional partnerships with business and other public sector leaders. This gives them an important leadership role in developing local industrial strategies. In order to see prosperity across the country all areas need to be able to draw on the right powers and adequate funding to deliver successful and inclusive economies. 
  • The review of LEPs is an important opportunity to secure an even stronger partnership between business and public sector leaders, and the basis for new devolution deals. In order to ensure the right balance of powers, funding and support across Whitehall, it is essential that councils across the country play a full part in the review. LEPs are local partnerships, and growth strategies will rely on the strength and quality of local leadership. They will fail without the involvement of councils.
  • It is encouraging to see the White 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.