Headlines: December 11th, 2009

Local authorities have been given a new role in backing growing industries to support future economic success. A new national framework has been drawn up to coordinate the work of councils and the Regional Development Agencies to pursue national priorities for skills, innovation and investment and to promote industries that will drive growth.

Under the proposals RDAs and councils will collaborate more closely to build on their local strengths and to ensure that any public money that is invested is targeted at projects where it can have the most impact. The plans follow the publication earlier this year of the ‘New Industry, New Jobs’ strategy which set out the need for all government action to be supportive of business.

The new ‘Partnerships for Growth’ plan sets a series of key objectives, including raising the rate of sustainable economic growth, increasing employment and closing the gaps in growth rates between regions. The RDAs will have a new duty to set priorities for skills funding and joining up support for innovation, infrastructure and enterprise through working with partners nationally and locally. They will agree priorities with local authorities and city-region partnerships.

The Regional Economic Development Minister Rosie Winterton said the changing economic times had thrown up new challenges and it was important to ensure that every region benefited from opportunities for growth provided by the recovery. “During the economic recovery RDAs must play a key role and build on coordination with local authorities and national government. We need joined-up action at national, regional and local levels so that people and businesses get the greatest possible help to increase prosperity,” she said.