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Councils urged to concentrate on inclusive growth

Local authorities have been urged to focus on growing their own inclusive economies in the post-Brexit landscape.

A new report by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) warns councils of the dangers of creating jobs at any cost, and instead calls on them to pursue an inclusive growth agenda, which will enable the ‘widest range of people and places to both contribute to and benefit from economic success’.

‘From low pay and productivity to local and regional inequalities, Britain’s economic problems seem to drag on and on with precious little light at the end of the tunnel,’ the report states.

‘But this is not true in every country, nor is it true in every place. The case studies in this report demonstrate that empowered local leadership can take steps to improve livelihoods and give citizens a greater sense of efficacy and voice; and internationally we can be inspired that inequalities of wealth can be reduced and more sustainable economies are being nurtured.

‘It is not too late to ensure that our current crisis spawns a more inclusive economy, there are many signs of hope if we only care to look,’ the report adds.

The study also warns inclusive growth is more important than ever given Brexit uncertainty and urges the government to establish a new independent UK Inclusive Growth Investment Fund, incorporating repatriated EU funds, to ‘pump-prime’ place-based investment.

It also recommends the Treasury launch a a new national place-based spending review, which would attribute the total amount of public sector spending and investment to places rather than Whitehall siloes.

‘Economic insecurity risks widening further in the coming years, given Brexit uncertainty, automation and the pressures of an ageing population,’ said report author Atif Shafique.

Councils are clearly limited by austerity, but can help their residents by making sure inclusive growth tangibly helps local resident. our report shows how even conservative US states like Utah have used inclusive growth to buck the ‘growth-at-any-cost’ narrative, reducing carbon emissions while creating high-paid, quality jobs.

‘Likewise, central government must give councils the power and funding to actually make this a reality. This week’s announcement of funding for small towns shows more than ever we need real devolution to local authorities, including substantial fiscal powers.’

The full report – Inclusive Growth in Action – is available to read here.

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