The Industrial Strategy – Group Leader's Update – 10 February 2017

Cllr Marianne Overton

The new Industrial Strategy was released by the Rt Hon. Greg Clark at the end of January, putting our country's ability to restore prosperity well up the agenda. The Green Paper seeks your views. It recognises that Local Government has an important contribution to make and better distribution of those opportunities across the whole country is needed.

Currently, £23bn is used in 70 funding streams for "growth" and the LGA is calling for it to be brought together under Local Government. Councils have the democratic mandate with local accountability to be at the centre of the £5.3 billion of EU regeneration funds for jobs, infrastructure and the economy. This would enable business leaders to focus on providing strategic business advice and influencing national economic strategy.

Members want to see local government being able to take a lead in the skills agenda, bringing the plethora of separate initiatives together. For now, the paper launches a new initiative of £170m capital for Institutes of Technology.

Growth of our local companies and industries is clearly crucial to our future. Sound trade and manufacturing to benefit our residents is a key issue often raised by our group members. Not being in the Euro and having a weaker pound clearly makes British goods more attractive both on the internal and foreign markets. Encouraging trade and investment is as important as ever.

Greg Clark said, "The conditions that have allowed UK investment destinations to succeed include the availability of supportive research programmes, relevant skills in local labour markets and capable supply chains." So not just lower corporation tax, than.

However, inward investment must benefit our residents. It is less useful if it displaces local businesses, is run by robots or exclusively exports products and profits abroad. There is also some concern that inward investment can lead to key services being effectively outsourced abroad and other countries controlling a large portion of what is most important to us. It's a tough job for residents to hold global multi-nationals to account. It is surely therefore better for local government to assist our local businesses to thrive, providing infrastructure such as energy and utilities, broadband and mobile signals, happily all raised in the new Industrial Strategy.

Please let us know your thoughts and you may like to write your own response to the Industrial Strategy for your local press or as a letter for the LGA's First magazine.

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17 February 2017