There are 9 item(s) tagged with the keyword "local economies".
Across the political and media landscape, there is no shortage of reference to the potential for a ‘Roaring Twenties’ style recovery as we finally emerge from the majority of restrictions associated with Covid, which have been in place for the majority of the past two years. However, will local government be dancing and singing or is it another false dawn in terms of the prospect of better times ahead?
Whilst the 1920’s have been long considered as a decade of progress, following a global pandemic, which brought trauma to society, it is important to also acknowledge that the 1920s were anything but roaring for many in the UK, instead characterised by growing unemployment, stagnating wages and sluggish productivity.
In any attempts to draw parallels with the present it’s important to not get too carried away with a positive bias. History may not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. As with the 1920s, today’s economic and political landscape is strewn with messy public policy issues that could stifle any roar into a whimper.
For those of you dusting down your action plan responding to climate emergency declarations, following a pause to focus on all things Covid-19, you must have been heartened to hear the fanfare announcing the Prime Ministers ‘Green Industrial Revolution’, but when the noise died down what does it all mean for local government.
In APSE, we have always recognised that if Government wish to meet national targets around carbon neutrality and councils have declared challenging measures locally, then both will be mutually dependent on each other to make significant progress. From wider work we are engaged in this is not only a fact recognised by the Committee on Climate Change but also by the general public in the opinion polling we undertake through Survation.
It is understandable that the Prime Ministers plan has a major focus on job creation, giving a nod to many areas of the country who may benefit from green investment, as part of the levelling up agenda. One criticism would be the scale of the ambition shown, with many calling for much greater levels of spend. A wider package of £12B is welcome but even with the claim that this will stimulate three times as much again, as a contribution from the private sector, it still only takes this to half of the current spend on HS2.
Recent events in Northamptonshire have hammered home the message that local government has reached a tipping point in terms of its finances. Anyone who thinks that the problems faced at the County Council are unique is in for a rude awakening. In this context is it time for a new municipalism?
With policy pressures piling up and budgets diminishing rapidly for many services it is time for local authorities to take back control of their areas by reclaiming entrepreneurship, rather than the outdated thinking that someone else should do this for them. This is not about acting commercially in the blind pursuit of income generation but to identify the major policy puzzles facing communities and thinking creatively and innovatively about how to solve these policy conundrums. Where markets have failed to deliver the outcomes that local communities need then it’s time for local councils to step up to the plate.
From the eighties up until the late-noughties a fairly stable orthodoxy existed amongst many senior policymakers that the transfer of large swathes of local government services to national outsourcing companies was a good thing, would bring much needed investment, transformation of approach and efficiency in delivery. Anyone who dared question the reality of what outcomes would actually be achieved was ostracised and branded as a dinosaur by the industry that built up around the sector.
In APSE, we always try to look for tangible evidence and think through the long-term outcomes in any suggested approach to delivering local government services and it’s therefore fair to say that we held a fairly healthy scepticism of much of the claims of risk transfer, widespread additional employment benefits and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. From around 2005 onwards we also started to see many contracts which harked back to the CCT days or which were early strategic partnerships start to run out of steam and councils start to insource them.
It’s the infrastructure and facilities, it’s the look and the feel, it’s the local environment and how safe and secure the area is. At a time when we are trying to attract people to our localities and communities, are we cutting back on the very things that make places habitable, those very highly visible and publically recognised neighbourhood services?
We know that local authority expenditure in the UK will be 30% less by 2020, than it was in 2010, we also know that in England local government finance will have moved to a much more local financing model by that point. Under current Government plans most councils will be almost fully dependant on a mixture of council tax and business rates revenue, alongside a small amount of other grants and income generated through commercial activity.
Former speaker of the US House of Representatives, Tip O'Neill, is credited with the quote 'All politics is local' and I think that adage has never been more apt than at present.
Having spoken at and attended a number of packed fringes at all of the main party conferences recently I couldn't help but reflect on the fact that there is a reawakening by the political parties that many of the most pressing policy issues are best resolved at a local government level.
A huge debate is taking place at present about which are the best models available to divest public services through. I have got to say I remain to be convinced. Whatever service options local authorities decide to pursue in future the benchmark against which to appraise the options is the existing in-house service. Does any alternative form of provision meet or surpass the benefits that managing services directly yourself brings.
Spoke today at the Supply Conference North West on how the public and private sectors can work together better. It was mainly a private sector audience of suppliers to local government.
After putting the economic context facing public services at present I went on to talk about the interdependency of the public and private sectors upon each other in local economies. I have explained our economic footprint research and the £1.64 concept on this blog many times before.