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Warning of local industrial strategy 'capacity gap'

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The government should put more resources into agreeing local industrial strategies with places or it risks concentrating its efforts on boosting the economy in just a handful of areas, according to Localis.

In a report the thinktank today warns of a “capacity gap” within Whitehall.

The Delivery of an Industrial Strategy – raising prosperity across England examines how strategic authorities, such as mayoral combined authorities and county councils, can take the industrial strategy forward at a local level to raise local prosperity and living standards.

While increasing productivity is a “key goal” for places, the report said “a number of stakeholders have raised concerns that there is not enough capacity in central government to facilitate it”.

While local industrial strategies are being created in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and the Oxford-Cambridge corridor Localis said these are “also three of the ‘easiest’ places to work with given their existing strategic functions”.

“If government can agree only three local industrial strategies every 18 months, this leaves a significant number of places likely to face a ‘no deal’ scenario with their local industrial strategy,” the report said.

While “there is much a place can do on its own without government support or agreement to achieve local industrial strategy aims”, the report said: “However, given the potential of local industrial strategies, this seems a missed opportunity for a government which has pledged to make the economy work for every person and place: As one of the major planks of government’s national strategy, central planning within government should take note of this capacity gap.

“As a short-term priority, it seems essential that government directs more resources towards agreeing places’ post-Brexit local industrial strategies.”

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