Economic Growth, Housing & Infrastructure

Counties are the backbone of the English economy. Collectively, the 36 county authorities represent 41% of England’s GVA, 47% of the country’s employment, and 40% of its imports and their role in infrastructure and economic development helps unlock the housing England desperately needs. Their residents’ largest contributors to the Treasury, providing a fiscal surplus; with £54bn more raised in tax revenues last year than was spent on public services.

But despite this, counties have specific challenges which, if they are not addressed, will hamper this country’s economic progress which is so crucial post Brexit. Counties suffer from lower-than average productivity compared to the major cities, have infrastructure gaps amounting to billions over the coming years, and contain some of the least affordable housing in the country, especially in the south east.

Many of the domestic economic issues facing the Government can begin to be addressed by tapping into counties’ potential. This is especially true in housing, where our new report with the Town and Country Planning Association shows how counties are innovating to accelerate housing delivery in their areas – but with planning reform and extra resource, they can do much more.

CCN has argued that planning reforms should go further, such as the statement of common ground, whilst planning and infrastructure functions should be closer aligned, with counties working in strong collaboration with district partners, like in the Oxfordshire ‘housing deal’. CCN’s report with Catriona Riddell Associates makes this argument.

Oxford Economics has argued that counties should play a bigger role in the Government’s Industrial Strategy, and CCN will continue to argue for a significant role for county authorities in shaping ‘localised’ industrial strategies, and for an equal distribution of resource for infrastructure and economic growth.


County economies represent 41% of England’s GVA; £600bn
They contain 44% (or £13million) of the country’s jobs, including over 50% in manufacturing, motor trades, and construction
 62% of county respondents to a recent survey had set up a housing company or joint development venture to accelerate the delivery of new homes 
In two tier areas, counties are responsible for 93% of growth-related spending

CCN advocacy

  • Showcasing the importance and potential of county economies, as well as highlighting their weaknesses
  • Calling for closer alignment of housing and infrastructure functions, and planning reforms that go further in this direction to foster closer and more effective collaboration between counties and district councils
  • Ensuring that the proposed Industrial Strategy is place-based and truly reaches all four corners of the country
  • Ensuring that counties play a vital part in shaping forthcoming ‘localised’ industrial strategies and they are rolled out to all four corners of the country
  • Highlighting infrastructure gaps and skills mismatches in county areas; advocating the need for devolved skills budgets and powers in a renewed role for local authorities in overseeing education

CCN Spokesman for Transport and Infrastructure

Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Hertfordshire County Council

CCN Spokesman for Housing and Planning

Cllr Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council

CCN Spokesman for Economic Growth and Industrial Strategy

Cllr Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council