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Industrial Strategy: expert comment on local government

Industrial Strategy White Paper: Impact on local government, Grant Thornton UK LLP response

Paul Dossett, head of local government, Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented:

“There are opportunities here for all parts of the UK. Our sense is that local leaders welcome a more interventionist approach to the economy as it provides a practical opportunity to drive better people and place-based outcomes, such as improving skills, increasing prosperity and attracting investment.

“Local leaders need to collaborate on this or they will face mediocre results. We would challenge institutions across the country - including LEPs, combined and local authorities, health and public safety partners - on whether they are doing enough to overcome inertia and work effectively together for the good of the communities and places they serve. This is the right thing to do but all the more important when new opportunities and incentives are on offer.

“While in non-metro mayor areas it will be LEPs who will be leading the development of local industrial strategies, local authorities must also have a key role. Local authorities play a vital part in understanding and shaping their place so it is essential that they are closely involved in this process, including where there is more than one LEP covering their locality.

“Too often regional strategies have been ‘cookie cutter’ plans indistinguishable from place to place. A true local industrial strategy requires a careful and systemic view of the relationship between industry, economy, communities and people to help weave a unifying narrative about place. Successful local industrial strategies will be full of character and establish a heart-felt vision and purpose that reflects the views of the local community.

“We welcome the introduction of a Transforming Cities Fund for developing intra-city transport. Our initial analysis in London has shown that investment into transport in particular has a positive impact on housing developments and so in reviving areas. Increased connectivity is essential to help boost local economies and support jobs across the whole of England.

“While the industrial strategy provides a good basis for places to work from, to succeed it needs to be underpinned by strong local leadership. We need to invest in the next generation of local leaders, ensuring that people who are developing into senior public sector roles have the skills, perspective and networks to work as part of an increasingly well-defined place-based ecosystem.”