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Councils call for new emphasis on manufacturing

A group of local authorities has called for a renewed emphasis on manufacturing to help rebuild Britain’s ‘left behind’ towns.

A new report out today (12 February) by the Industrial Communities Alliance claims a manufacturing revival is ‘what the UK economy needs’ and would help boost the economies of older towns.

The report notes the economies of many older industrial towns remains weak with slow job growth, low-grade jobs and worklessness.

It also argues that many of these towns are relying increasingly on jobs in neighbouring or nearby cities.

‘For too long, manufacturing has been undervalued and this needs to change,’ the report states.

‘By valuing, investing in and protecting what older industrial towns make and sell, the economies of these “left behind” places can become more self-sustaining and contribute to the economic wealth of the nation.’

In order to help rebuild the economies of older industrial towns, the report calls for more effective use of state aid for a wider range of sectors, including manufacturing.

It also argues there has been no central government funding stream for regional aid in England since the demise of the Regional Growth Fund in 2015, which is a ‘key gap in the regional development armoury’.

The report also calls for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to be up and running for 1 January 2021 and if – as widely predicted – it is merged with the Local Growth Fund then it should be set at around £4bn a year.

It also calls on the government to allocate the funding on the basis of need and ‘not through a competing bidding beauty contest’.

‘Our towns are important places in their own right and not just there to provide workers and consumers for the big cities.  What our towns need are more jobs, and better jobs, closer to home,’ said Alliance chair, Cllr Keith Cunliffe.

‘After years of neglect, the Westminster government seems to be waking up to our concerns.  If they seize the moment and run with our proposals there is the opportunity to make a real difference to our communities.’

Photo Credit – Free-Photos (Pixabay)

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