“Local government has great ambition to get on with the job of building homes, creating jobs, supporting businesses and investing in new infrastructure. However, massive increases in costs due to spiralling inflation and National Living Wage rises risk undermining those ambitions, by forcing councils to cut local services to meet their legal duty to balance the books."
Responding to the Government’s announcement and publication of its Growth Plan, Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:
“Local government is committed to ensuring people living in every part of the country enjoy the benefits of increased productivity and prosperity.
“We look forward to working closely with the Government at the earliest opportunity on the design, rollout and implementation of Investment Zones, including on proposals to deregulate and streamline the mechanism for planning permission. It is important that councils and communities, which know their local areas best, continue to have the ability to shape their local area so it is somewhere they are proud to live and work.
“Councils can be an engine of growth but have been hamstrung by the burden of navigating a complex and fragmented funding landscape, so we are pleased the Chancellor will honour the commitment in the Levelling Up White Paper to streamline growth funding. Local economies are different and will need different things to stimulate them, so councils need maximum flexibility over how growth funding is used and the overall level of existing growth funding needs to be protected.
“Employment and training support should also be place based, as we have set out in our Work Local proposals, to support people and places on the ground to benefit from employment growth. Any government initiative to help Universal Credit claimants find work, or increase their earnings, should also connect up with other government schemes to increase skills and qualifications and support for families, including affordable, accessible childcare and help for parents who are returning to work. It is vital claimants have access to the right support and benefits to get on in life, which is especially important amid cost of living pressures.
“If we are to ultimately build a world-class economy, we need to improve the way we match local opportunities with the aspirations of local people. Central to this has to be devolving national employment and skills funding to local government, so councils can build on their track record of helping more people into work and plugging growing skills gaps.
“Local government has great ambition to get on with the job of building homes, creating jobs, supporting businesses and investing in new infrastructure. However, massive increases in costs due to spiralling inflation and National Living Wage rises risk undermining those ambitions, by forcing councils to cut local services to meet their legal duty to balance the books. Government will need to step in to ensure councils have the funding to meet these ongoing pressures, in order to protect the services that will be vital to achieve its ambitions to produce a more balanced economy.”