Council CEOs welcome Industrial Strategy to drive devolution

Council chief executives have welcomed the Industrial Strategy Green Paper, saying that they agree with the government’s plans to build a stronger economy and fairer society and the opportunity it offers to unlock further devolution.

The report Building our Industrial Strategy – which the government released in January this year –closed its public consultation at the start of this week, and now Solace, the organisation representing over 1,200 CEOs and senior public sector managers in the country, has said the government’s targets for the economy should drive the UK in the right direction.

In particular, Solace repeated its support of the government’s ambition to empower local areas to be better prepared outside the EU by developing locally-devised and resourced strategies.

However, Solace added it was critical that the national approach was flexible and could be altered to allow cross-cutting to be delivered in localities which respond to individual circumstances, strengths and needs.

The organisation also supported the government’s commitment to build on the approach of city deals and devolution deals, and allowing local government to bring forward solutions that best meet the needs and economic opportunities of their own local areas.

Martin Swales, chief executive of South Tyneside Metropolitan council and Solace spokesperson for economic prosperity and housing, said that his organisation believed that the focus on solid economics within a context of local inclusive growth will positively support the UK economy.

“The policy intention of inclusive growth must be pursued if we are to see a genuine distribution of economic opportunity across the country and a true rebalancing of the economy,” he explained.

“Following the Brexit decision there was a clear commitment to a stronger socio-economic policy direction. In turn, senior civil servants have been open and engaging with Solace about the Industrial Strategy which has supported the formation of our collective response to the consultation.”

Swales said that for years, the organisation had been working with the language of deal making with regards to city deals, devolution deals and now were able to frame local and regional deals around investible propositions within an Industrial Strategy.

“Solace believes we should respond positively to this opportunity and work with national government to deliver together,” he said.

But Swales added that there were still significant challenges that need to be addressed, including “incentives for inward investors in a globally competitive environment, greater certainty about replacement EU funding and ongoing financial support for emerging projects”.

“Solace will continue to work with government and our partner organisations to drive more inclusive, place-sensitive growth as the Industrial Strategy evolves,” he concluded.

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