‘First step must now become leaps and bounds’ – BCC on Levelling Up White Paper

02
Feb

Responding to the publication of the Levelling Up White Paper, Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: 
 
“This is an important first step in putting local economic prosperity at the heart of Government policy. This step though, must now rapidly become leaps and bounds. Business communities are keen to see the ambitions of this agenda turn into delivery in the very near future, improving prosperity around the country.  
 
“We are pleased to see policies the Chamber Network has long campaigned for – such as UK-wide infrastructure reaching London standards, widespread 5G internet, local skills planning and devolution of funding decisions to the local level – take real significance and be enshrined in law. 
 
“What must now follow is the detail on the role local business leaders will have in oversight and delivery of the missions laid out. Where necessary, additional funding must be made available in order to drive change. Government must not forget the role that local businesses play in creating opportunity and prosperity in their communities, and should continue to work with British Chambers of Commerce and others to identify further ways to improve the business environment and enable more firms to grow and thrive.” 

 
On Devolution 
 
“Chamber business communities across England support greater devolution. The centralisation of money and decision making in Whitehall continues to be a brake on cities, towns and counties that are keen to realise their potential. However, businesses only want to see devolution with purpose – not just devolution for its own sake.  
 
“Devolution must be shaped by business knowledge of local and regional needs, and be accountable to local businesses and communities. It is vital that time and energy spent on structural changes results in the acceleration of genuine uplifts to prosperity in our regions and nations."

 
On Funding Allocation 
 
“Government has heeded our calls to streamline the variety of funding pots and will be taking a more strategic approach to funding. Accredited Chambers would like to see local areas receive larger funds to use within a strategic framework and given greater autonomy to use it to address areas of greatest challenge or opportunity in their local communities over the long term."

Speaking about the White Paper, Denise Rossiter, Chief Executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, said "The Government's White Paper on its' levelling up agenda has been promised for some time now and as with so many Government announcements the devil is in the detail. We have yet to see exactly what those details are but at first glance I'm unsure how Essex will really benefit from these announcements"

"As expected, the focus is on developing the economies of the Midlands and the North with the assumption that everything in the South East, which the Government often includes Essex in, being fine. We note that Suffolk and Norfolk are being invited to bid for Mayoral Combined Authorities bringing with it devolution of power from Whitehall to local government, we have to ask "what about Essex?"

"We will continue to remind our local MPs and Government Ministers that although Essex is doing well there are still areas of inequality that need support so that our local economies and businesses can do even better in the future. If I was a teacher marking this I would say, could do better" 
 

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