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Look locally for economic recovery

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Now is a good time to reflect on the economy - on the most appropriate indicators, measures and signals.

Although official figures state Britain is mired in recession, recent employment figures have been strong and retail sales have improved.

National confidence in our economy is seemingly affected more by what we expect to happen overseas over the medium and long term than what we see happening today in our local economies.

Macroeconomists and forecasters are beginning to revise their methods accordingly.

Employers do go out of business or lay people off work to downsize, but if I look carefully enough, I see the skilled and work-ready people being re-employed.

It seems an increasing number of local economies are ready to grow despite our determination to write ourselves off nationally on a macroeconomic scale.

It is equally clear we have major socioeconomic challenges in specific geographic areas and segments of Britain.

We can’t afford to be complacent because we see one thing working well in one place.

Improvements in employment opportunities and work readiness for young people, leavers from care, prison and the armed forces, as one example, require significant intervention and support.

So, it seems appropriate to be spending time reflecting on local growth, local enterprise zones and local enterprise partnerships.

As a LEP chair, along with my colleagues up and down the country, I have provided input, examples, and requests to the numerous sources of enquiry over the past three months. It has felt like a conveyor belt of similar, albeit well-intentioned and appropriate questions, from the likes of the CBI, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and the Department for Communities & Local Government.

Many have also provided input to the Lord Heseltine review and the all-party parliamentary group review.

I hope we will now be able to use these reviews, reports, conclusions and proposed changes to begin to focus national attention, energy and resources on local economic efforts.

Andrew Bacon, chairman, Leicester & Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, and director, British Gas

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