Headlines: June 15th, 2009

Local government leaders have warned that a national, blanket policy for economic recovery will not work because the impact of the recession has been markedly different in each area. The Local Government Association has issued research which shows that the downturn has hit blue collar workers in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and South Wales while London and the South East have been affected much more by white collar job losses.

Local authorities want as many economic decisions as possible to be taken at a local level to ensure solutions can be found to local problems. The LGA says councils are working hard to minimise the effects of the recession on people and businesses and to retrain those who have lost their jobs. As major employers, buyers and service providers, councils, the LGA believes, are best placed to kickstart their local economise and to help people in need.

The LGA study found that that the largest number of job losses in the last year had been among blue-collar workers but white-collar job losses were rising faster. But it said a national or regional overview masked significant local differences, which often saw neighbouring areas performing very differently.

Sir Jeremy Beecham, the LGA’s Vice-Chairman said the analysis showed that even within individual regions there were differences in how local areas are faring. “A national, one size fits all approach to dealing with the recession simply isn’t going to work. The fastest way to move from recession to recovery is for more decisions about the economy to be taken at the local level, which means councils continuing to work with local people and businesses,” he said.

“Moves in the budget to allow councils to bid for a £1bn job creation fund were encouraging. The government recognised that it is councils that are the key to creating jobs both in the public and private sectors. However, with greater freedoms over transport, infrastructure, planning, economic development and skills, councils would be able to do even more for local people.

“Local government is doing its bit to help local economies. The LGA has committed to working with local authorities to increase the number of council apprenticeships by 7,500. Councils will also use funding from the break-up of the Learning and Skills Council to tailor training for young people and to encourage them to stay in education if it is right for them.”