In my experience lots of periods of change have particular inflection points, or moments when the overall direction becomes clear, even if only for a few minutes, before the fog of debate, war, negotiation or whatever it is comes down again.
Metro Dynamics yesterday launched a new report, urging the Government to champion investment in regional infrastructure to support economic growth and help eradicate the north-south divide.
The report calls for the Government to explicitly promote the Shared Prosperity Fund for regional economic rebalancing and recognise investment in infrastructure as critical to the long-term competitiveness of a modern economy. The Government is also urged to recognise vital role of Mayors and regional bodies such as the Northern Powerhouse and Transport for the North, along with the National Infrastructure Commission, as important new enablers of regional planning and investment that should be used to help switch the emphasis from London and the South East.
t’s a bit early for lists of the best things of 2018, but my favourite book was “Our Towns” by Jim and Deb Fellows, based on their 100,000 mile trip round smaller US cities and the city led renewal and community action that is thriving. I recommend it. It’s hard to see from this side of the pond, but the party divisions which are paralysing Washington are much less of an issue locally. Whilst national politics are totally dysfunctional, cities and towns are just getting on with what they need to do.
With the outcome of Brexit negotiations still up in the air, the Government’s scope for a major shift in direction at this autumn’s Budget was limited. Nevertheless, this is a Budget that supports investment and growth, and local growth in particular.
The Chancellor reiterated Government’s commitment to boosting productivity, and to regional and city growth to achieve it. There are new sources of funding at all levels of local government and these sit within the overarching structure of the Industrial Strategy published last year. So although the country’s finances and policies will be ultimately determined by what happens with Brexit – Philip Hammond has reserved the right to upgrade the 2019 Spending Review to a full Budget should no deal with the EU be struck – this Budget offers much of interest to places in the interim.
By Ben Lucas
New Zealand has a unique opportunity to develop a new model of sustainable inclusive growth that could put very different values at the heart of its economy. The new, Jacinda Ardern led, Labour, New Zealand First and Green Coalition has been in power for a year now. Its ambition was highlighted by the decision of Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First, to act as Ardern’s kingmaker on the grounds that the country was ready for “capitalism with a human face”.
Theresa May’s recent announcement of the end of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) borrowing cap has received a very warm welcome across the local government sector. Since the changes to the HRA system in 2012, the chorus of voices demanding either an increase in the HRA cap, or its abolition entirely, have become louder and louder as the cap has become an increasing barrier to local government getting housing delivered.
By Daniel Timms
To those following the news, summer 2018 has seen something of a break in tradition. The ‘silly season’, with its round of eye-rolling headlines, has been rather more serious than before. Debate has raged about grave questions of national importance, and there is much brooding about what the future holds.
Against this backdrop, the Great Exhibition of the North, hosted by Newcastle and Gateshead and coming to an end this week, has been a ray of light. The exhibition, featuring innovation, science, culture, and art from right across the North, has vividly displayed an extraordinary depth of creativity and innovation. Across the UK, many have heeded the call to #GetNorth and enjoy the exhibitions and events. Where better, then, for the first Convention of the North? The symbolism – that the North is an innovative region with huge potential – could not be clearer.
A pioneering new unit to ensure everyone in the region benefits from the work of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has been established.
The Inclusive Growth Unit is a ground-breaking collaboration between the WMCA and a range of organisations to ensure policy and decision-making tackles issues such as poverty and unemployment.
They include Public Health England, the Barrow Cadbury Trust, and a range of national and regional bodies focused on social change and economic inclusion.