Research Project

Trading Places: Pyramids of prosperity built on economic localism
3 July, 2008

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As Government seek to place a new duty of economic development on local authorities, NLGN’s new publication Trading Places looks afresh at the role councils can play, the influence they have on business and enterprise, and the link between policy and prosperity.

Author Matthew Clifton suggests a new methodology for assessing an area’s economic strengths and weaknesses, which in turn should point leaders and chief executives towards priorities for improvement. The ‘competitive advantage’ of one area can differ markedly from another, so councils need to devise their own distinct strategies for economic success.

Building on real case studies from across the country, Trading Places analyses the fundamental building blocks for new growth and regeneration to occur, focusing in particular on knowledge-based service companies. The report makes over 20 recommendations for both national and local government, including:

  • The introduction of tax relief on the cost of moving associated with employment;
  • Devolution of responsibility for transport;
  • Devolution of responsibility for both pre and post 19 skills;
  • A share of income tax as a local government grant;
  • 4p top rate for Supplementary Business Rates

This report offers a strong rationale for the empowerment of local leadership, and to set out local approaches to achieving the Government’s own target of ensuring that each region performs to its full potential. It finds that, while regional variation should be accounted for, and while baselines aren’t always comparable, there are certain key factors that encourage economic development, particularly the knowledge economy and mobile labour markets. Steps should be taken to stimulate their growth.

The report, which is supported by BT and Yorkshire Forward, argues that if the aspirations of the Treasury and CLG for regional economic convergence are to be realised, they need to be converted into tangible, tailored policies relevant from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. The framework set out in Trading Places will help Leaders and senior officers across our local authorities develop strategies to galvanise and lead economic development.

Publication Date: 3 July 2008
ISBN: 978 1 903 447 72 7
Authored by: Matthew Clifton