I’m not sure if or how the current growth agenda in all its guises connects
with efforts to transform local services to better meet the needs of local
This in the context of what I see with Community Budgets as continuing to
represent a new ‘managerialism’, rather than a new ‘transformation’ agenda to
address the well-being of local people. Community Budgets are increasingly
becoming a mechanism to reconfigure managerial arrangements for funding and
They are not a mechanism to incentivise and drive the serious reconfiguration
of service provision at and driven by frontline experiences and outcomes, as
promoted by the Total Place programme.
Similarly, I’m not sure whether
Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs) and the Single Local Growth Fund represent
the best way to reinvigorate UK plc? We need to capture the inherent value and
realise transformational change in the provision of local public service
services. This can happen by adding value and creating synergy between local
public service expenditure and the work of LEPS and the Single Local Growth Fund
for the benefit of local citizens and growth.
The work of the decade old
‘growth coalitions’ and ‘smart local government’ project has a role in this.
Growth coalitions sought to drive growth in all local economies on the basis
that what’s good for local people - good housing and education, a good
environment etc. - is good for local business. It was focussed on the need for
an overarching economic or growth-driven strategic vision making local services
work better for local people and the national economy by utilising the ‘tools of
government’. This effectively would lead to a rationalisation and coordination
of local services and the development of the local area, addressing what I
The challenge now is how government, the LEPs
and local public service providers can ‘square the circle’ and ensure that local
citizens as well as UK PLC can best reap the benefits of growth. Many of the
proposals enshrined in the ‘growth coalitions’ and ‘smart local government’
project ring true today and can assist with this conundrum. Perhaps if we had
had maturing growth coalitions by now many local economies would not be faring
so badly from the current financial crisis and have realised a turnaround in
fortunes much earlier.
Mark Prisk MP (minister for Housing and Local
Government) recently wrote to me. He stated:
'…the Government shares Lord Heseltine’s view that local authorities must
put economic development at the heart of all they do. For local government to
become the engine of growth that it needs to be, we are clear that local
authorities need to transform their activities on driving economic
The creation of the single Local Growth Fund presents significant
opportunities for those places that want to grab them and I want to see all
areas raise their game, coming up with innovative proposals'....
Meeting recently with the Labour Party policy team, I talked about the
movement from the past, addressing welfare and looking forward to an
enterprising Britain. We are now in different times, in a different world and a
new economic era. It is as ever the now ageing adage, “It’s the economy,
stupid”. The task is to repair a broken economy and society, domestically and
internationally, with Britain again making its way in the
Most recently, the Government, as part of its
Spending Review for 2015-2016 provided more details on its plans for LEPs and
the Single Local Growth Fund. They state that 'There is a powerful case for
giving local business and political leaders the levers they need to create jobs
and drive growth' and that 'every locality must be able to fulfil its potential
by taking responsibility for decisions and resources that affect their local
Their plan is that funding is to be allocated to LEPs on the
basis of a 'Growth Deals' negotiated with central Government. An area’s
allocation from the Single Local Growth Fund will be available to be spent on
the priorities LEPs and their partners have determined in their new strategic
economic plans. LEPs and the member local authorities will then agree how to
spend this funding in line with their strategic economic plans as agreed through
the Growth Deal process.
LEPs will be asked to develop multi-year
strategic plans, bringing together funding proposals from the Single Local
Growth Fund with plans for EU Structural and Investment Funds, and details of
leveraged funding from local authorities and the wider public and private
sector. The Government claims that “These plans will…ensure that everyone with
an interest in a local area is driving in the same direction”.
basis of these strategic plans central Government and each LEP will negotiate a
Growth Deal to give, as the Government states 'local areas greater resources,
powers and influence'. This will include an allocation from the Single Local
Growth Fund, made at a single point through a competitive process to strengthen
incentives on LEPs and their partners to generate growth.
Government claims that these reforms, including the development of strategic
economic plans through a process that brings together central government, local
authorities and the private sector, will “drive greater coherence in local areas
and a shared understanding of the economic development of an area”.
practitioner, I look forward to ensuring that the development work and bids for
the LEPs Single Local Growth Fund provide the opportunity for LEPs and local
authorities to work together to ensure that growth plans can capture the
potential of local public service expenditure.
Fineberg is an advisor on local public services and economic development.
Further information is available at www.growthcoalitions.org.uk