Counties are the backbone of the English economy. The figures speak for themselves: Collectively, the 37 county authorities represent 41% of England’s GVA, 47% of the country’s employment, and 40% of its imports. Importantly, counties are the largest contributors to the Treasury, providing a fiscal surplus; with £54bn more raised in tax revenues for the Treasury last year than was spent on public services.
But despite this, counties have unique 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. Oxford Economics has argued that counties should play a bigger role in the Government’s Industrial Strategy, and CCN is calling for the strategy to truly seize on this with policies that truly empower all four corners of the country, deliver the next phase of devolution, and provide investment for infrastructure. Counties are also well placed to be a significant role in developing badly-needed homes for our communities; with a greater county role via strategic planning helping to align housing and infrastructure, increase collaboration between local authority partners, offering a blueprint for a more streamlined system that delivers homes in the right locations
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
County economies have grown at a faster rate over the last decade than the city combined authorities, 1.1% per year
In two tier areas, counties are responsible for 93% of growth-related spending
- Showcasing the importance and potential of county economies, as well as highlighting their weaknesses
- Building on the governments withdrawal of the metro-mayor requirement for devolution deals, setting out an offer to Whitehall for significant devolution of growth functions and fiscal powers
- Ensuring that the proposed Industrial Strategy is place-based and truly reaches all four corners of the country
- Helping shape the Housing White Paper and arguing for an increased role for county councils in strategic planning; a closer alignment of housing and infrastructure
- 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 Industrial Strategy & Growth
Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council
CCN Spokesman for Housing, Planning, and Infrastructure
Cllr Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council