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Council leaders call for growth boards in every county

Growth boards should be established in every county in England as part of the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, according to a new report.

The report by consultants Grant Thornton UK LLP for the County Councils Network argues that county authorities are best placed to deliver change and results on the ground for residents, but they need the resources and powers to make it happen.

One of the report’s recommendations is to establish a growth board in every county area.

‘The growth boards should be governed by a national framework and guidance, and have clean growth at their core,’ the report states.

‘This framework would cover the “building blocks” for growth – powers, governance, funding and capacity.’

The report adds that such boards should be ‘insight and data led’ and learn from local industrial strategy evidence bases.

In addition, the report also notes that while the proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will replace EU regeneration grants is welcome, but has to focus on ‘reducing inequality both between different places and within different places’.

It also states that councils must have a ‘key role’ in deciding how the funding is allocated.

And it recommends that rather than a focus on the ‘north-side divide’, government economic and investment assessments should identify those places where the economic ‘gap’ is greatest.

‘The levelling-up agenda cannot bypass and forget about shire counties, with many of these areas experiencing economic growth that is lagging far behind the rest of the country,’ said CCN’s economic growth spokesman, Cllr Barry Lewis.

‘Communities in the likes of Devon and Cornwall in the South West, to Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands need as much focus on why they have been left behind as the likes of Wokingham and Blyth.

‘Today’s report underlines that county authorities will have a huge role to play in the success or otherwise of this agenda. These councils know their areas intimately yet are able to deliver change through their investment and influence. They are the main economic players in their communities but need powers and resource – the devolution white paper provides a perfect opportunity for a step-change.’

The full report – Place based growth – is available to read here.

Photo Credit – TimHill (Pixabay)

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart

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