CCN Blogs | 14 April 2020
This report looks in some detail at the investment, influence and interventions made by county authorities in driving place-based growth in their areas alongside a wider analysis of the business environments, living standards and infrastructure provision in these places. The report highlights both the range of challenges facing county authorities as well as the importance of ensuring that there is a place-based response to dealing with them: the multivariate nature of the challenges requires an intimate understanding of place. In the light of the likely significant economic impact of COVID 19 on communities and places across the country these challenges are only going to become more pronounced. The need for levers to drive growth in the next few years is therefore going to become even more critical.
The report highlights 10 recommendations that seek to build on the effective work that has already taken place and the strong place-leadership role that county authorities already play. At the heart of these recommendations sits a call for the English Devolution White Paper to consider how the devolution of powers to county authorities could assist in levelling-up the country, in driving local economic growth. As we wait for this White Paper we think that there are a number of things that county authorities can and should be doing. This includes:
The other recommendations include the need to set up insight and data led Growth Boards; bringing talent together within a place, ensuring greater consideration is given to the infrastructure requirements in non-metropolitan areas; giving counties strategic planning powers; and ensuring that funding processes are streamlined and simplified.
By 2041, 28.2 million people will live in county authority areas (a 9.5% increase from 2019). This will have profound implications on services, infrastructure provision, and resource requirement. The scale of this growth, coupled with the inequalities that exist both between counties and the national average, and within county authorities themselves, requires different action to be taken. This growth requires counties to be given more powers and funding so that they can use their intimate understanding of place to drive forward a joined-up approach to the delivery of growth. It requires a tailored response so that decisions about a place can be made by those who best understand it.
Director, Public Services Advisory
Grant Thornton UK LLP