A former minister and council head who chairs a task force on the place of a business organization warned that the balance between local and central funding for local authorities was “out of balance”.
Speaking at a board meeting of the Local Government Association People and Places, Lord Steve Bassam (Lab), said local government “is becoming increasingly dependent on grants and allocations from central government” .
The peer, who previously led the Brighton and Hove Council, leads the Business in the Community’s place working group, which is compiling a report on best practices for transforming a place’s outlook and which will create a blueprint for engagement businesses in place-based transformation. .
He told the assembly that the current local tax system “does not reward authorities who want to be enterprising and innovative”.
While local authorities “should be well supported by grants from central government for particular projects,” Lord Bassam said they should not become too dependent on government funding.
The task force gathered evidence that presents examples of best practice collaboration between business and local government, and Lord Bassam said he hoped the report “will have an impact on government policy and practice.” .
He added: “Politics in the UK is too centralized, it needs to be devolved more to local government. Few changes or events do not happen without local government being involved. So that’s our approach.
“We especially want to work with the boards and the LGA to make sure the report has some kind of a living future.”
Lord Bassam was also asked about the current labor shortage and how local authorities can work with businesses to support them in the event of persistent staff shortages.
“We have a weird job market right now where we have a lag,” Lord Bassam said. “We have a relatively full job, but is it the right job? “
In order to correct the mismatch between skills and jobs, he said local authorities should play an important role as they represent and understand the local community.