Business leaders call on Government to create Local Prosperity Partnerships from LEPs
The final report from the Covid Recovery Commission, published today, recommends that the Government "should build on and rebrand LEPs" to create Local Prosperity Partnerships that bring together businesses, local decisions makers and citizens to contribute to and deliver on Local Prosperity Strategies as part of a National Prosperity Plan backed by business leaders.
Some of the UK’s leading business figures have set out the blueprint for a National Prosperity Plan to help create globally competitive industries in every part of the UK, deliver on the government’s net zero commitments and reduce the economic and social inequalities that have been widened as a result of the pandemic.
The Covid Recovery Commission of 10 business leaders, including Chairs and Chief Executives representing AstraZeneca, Heathrow, Vodafone, Shell and Tesco, has published a major report today, ‘Ambition 2030’: A Partnership for Growth’. The paper argues that, “the pandemic has had a bigger impact on our economy than any event in the last 300 years.” Analysis by the Commission reveals that the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities with unemployment, mortality rates and mental health cases rising fastest in the most deprived communities across the UK. It also shows that 18% of the most deprived people – 1.15 million people – in the UK are living in local authorities with the highest economic output.
The report sets out the case for a new compact between purpose-led business, government and civic leaders to deliver real and lasting change in every part of the country. Key to the Prosperity Plan is the creation of a National Prosperity Scorecard. This would set specific metrics against the Government’s ‘levelling up’ plans to assess and track progress on a key set of social as well as economic indicators including employment and benefit dependency rates as well as health and educational outcomes. Local leaders would also be tasked with developing their own Local Prosperity Plans to help drive growth in every part of the UK.
John Allan, Chair of the Covid Recovery Commission said:
"A National Prosperity Scorecard will be key to evaluating the success or failure of local plans to level up communities. By looking beyond purely economic measures, it could also act as a vital warning light for local communities. Measures on the scorecard should include issues which are important to families such as mental and physical health, community resilience and transport connectivity. They should be set by central government but then it should be up to local leaders to drive local action.”
LEP Network Chair, Mark Bretton, said:
“The LEP Network welcomes the CRC’s recognition of the vital role LEPs play and the call to evolve that role to help deliver their National Prosperity Plan. The CRC’s final report lands at a critical time for the villages, towns and cities in every region of the country as we enable them to grow their local economies and unlock their potential with the stimulus and direction that today’s plan maps out. Making a solid business case for the evolution of LEPs as part of that plan matches that ambition, and coincides with the LEP Review which is considering the evolved role of LEPs.
“The report underpins what’s unique about LEPs, and that those functions are valued by business leaders and should be included as part of the government’s review of LEPs. This would exploit their uniqueness - their apolitical approach, their brokering and convening capability, their strength of place, and ability to forge consensus where there may be none – as vital factors needed if we are to achieve the ambitions in the government’s Plan for Growth”.
The Commission’s final report, which has been authored by WPI Economics, is the culmination of 10 months’ work, where the group consulted over 100 public policy specialists, academics, business groups as well as representatives from the devolved nations and each of the 8 Combined Mayoral Authorities. The report includes a package of further policy recommendations including:
- The creation at least one new globally competitive industry cluster in every part of the UK by 2030, primarily by harnessing the UK’s research firepower with highly skilled workers, fast growing businesses, and domestic and foreign investment.
- A commitment to develop a Great British Supply Chain. As part of this plan, the Crown Commercial Service and the Infrastructure Projects Authority would be merged into the Government Consulting Service, a social purpose company owned by Government with a remit to use Government procurement and major project delivery to support the development of a Great British Supply Chain.
- A ‘Help to Train’ scheme to assist in halving the projected skills gap by 2030. This includes a radical overhaul of the Apprenticeship Levy and the introduction of a Lifelong Learning Account, which would allow people from the age of 25 to access a pot of money worth as much as £10,000 to spend on upskilling and retraining courses during their working lives.
- A National Deal for Net Zero homes. A 15 year pathway to decarbonisation of the housing stock including a commitment by Government to make every social home in the UK as energy efficient as possible by 2030 and the introduction of a Green Homes Bond, a social impact bond to provide the upfront funding for retrofit of buildings in return for a long-term share in savings made through cheaper energy bills.
- The creation of anew Community Infrastructure Endowment Fund to match-fund business investment in communities and the introduction of a Wellbeing at Work Guarantee: ensuring that, by 2025, all employees across the UK have immediate and costless access to support for their mental health.
The report is available here.