The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) is calling on central government to unlock local authorities’ potential to develop the green economy.
APSE’s rallying cry came as it launched a new report The transition to the green economy: the vital role of the ensuring council, which shows what local authorities are achieving and highlights ways in which national policy could be changed to enable them to do more.
An environmentally sustainable economy is essential to combat climate change, enable the UK to compete in the £4 trillion global low-carbon market, reduce energy expenditure, improve security of supply and generate employment. Councils have a pivotal role in ensuring the transition to a green economy that is not properly recognised in current national policy, according to APSE.
Forty-six case studies in the report, written by Philip Monaghan and Eve Sadler of think-tank Infrangilis, show how every function within a local authority can make a powerful contribution towards the shift to a green economy. Leadership in Hackney,
spatial planning in Peterborough, transport in Bromsgrove and Redditch, property in Birmingham, waste management in Stirling and green skills training in Blaeneau Gwent are among the many examples given.
APSE’s chief executive, Paul O’Brien, said: ‘Councils are already making an impressive contribution to developing the green economy through use of their assets, community leadership, regeneration, planning, procurement, transport, education and management of services on the front-line. It is disappointing that, despite these achievements, the Government’s recent policy roadmap on the green economy does not make any reference to the role of local government in this important transition. Such a fragmented approach undermines collaborative efforts and is damaging to the public purse.’
He added: ‘Our new report identifies practical steps central government should take to help realise local government’s huge potential to ensure the UK’s transition to the green economy.’
Measures which could be taken by central government to help unlock local authorities’ potential discussed in the report include: enabling £143bn pension fund investment in low carbon regeneration projects; requiring the electricity industry to work on district energy planning; and making Feed In Tariffs viable for large-scale social housing schemes. The Government could also allow local authorities greater financial self-determination to boost the green economy, for example by enabling them to offer council tax rebates to households that retrofit homes to reduce carbon.
The report shows how the ‘ensuring council’ model developed by APSE – whereby a local authority retains a core capacity to deliver efficient services and aligns this with strategic vision, policy co-ordination, leadership, entrepreneurship and accountability – can underpin the transition to a green economy.