Blog: The Local Authority should signal its intentions to the local economy
The Local Authority can create and manage economic growth – for the borough and its neighbourhoods. This is the latest instalment of House’s thinking on the role of local authorities after the financial crisis and government spending settlements. Before it can take advantage of its unique position the Local Authority must be clear itself and with other stakeholders what its role is with respect to development, growth and place quality.
Is it consciously going to be a market manager, guaranteeing, where appropriate, contestable markets with low barriers to entry, and develop a procurement approach to suit?
Will the Local Authority choose to de-risk the local economic environment through targeted infrastructure investment and positive land use planning systems?
Will it provide a clear and consistent planning framework in accordance with the Localism Bill and subsequent legislation?
Will the borough look to attract private developers, firms, individuals and families who all see the area as a place of opportunity, with good education and health services?
The Local Authority has, potentially, four very clear market roles. It:
- Buys goods and services
- Provides goods and services
- Regulates the market for certain goods and services
- Makes markets and influences market activity, beyond a regulatory role.
Each of these roles can have a profound impact on the local economy, facilitating or constraining economic growth. This takes economic development way beyond a small team providing business support and puts economic development at the core of a Local Authority’s operations.
In this respect, it is important the Local Authority articulates a clear narrative, signalling to stakeholders – potentially through the nascent Local Economic Partnerships – its role and intentions with respect to the local economic environment.
We need to ensure the Local Authority:
- To focus sufficient strategic and delivery capability on the needs of its ‘customers’
- To recognises the role of place – neighbourhood, borough and / or sub-region – in the development of strategy, and to set a strategic framework that clearly aims to optimise growth at and between all spatial levels
- To clearly understand and articulate internally and externally its role in the local economy, signalling its intentions to key stakeholders, ensuring its decision making and actions are joined up and not counter-productive.
The next piece of the pie for the Local Authority is its internal capabilities and identify the strategic and operational levers that will enable it to deliver economic growth.