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Delivering growth: Where next for Local Enterprise Partnerships?

The Smith Institute and PwC

Published June 2015

Against the backdrop of political change and economic recovery, this ‘Talking Points’ report puts the spotlight on “where next” for the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England. By capturing the views of LEP representatives and their partners the intention is to identify a common agenda and inform and stimulate the debate about the future of the LEPs.

Based on 22 interviews with LEP leaders it highlights the main priorities and obstacles facing the LEPs over the next five years, in particular around their capacity and capability to deliver on their ambitions. 

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The local double dividend: securing economic and social success

A Smith Institute ‘policy in the making’ discussion paper by Neil McInroy and Matthew Jackson, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES)

Published February 2015

This new discussion paper makes the case that devolution offers the chance to tackle poverty and inequality by doing things differently – but current thinking may lead us towards the same mistakes. The authors argue that With a national economic model which seems incapable of dealing with poverty and inequality, there is a chance that a fresh action by cities and local government can get to the roots causes of weak local economies and social exclusion. The report argues a ‘Double Dividend’ approach is required in which both economic and social success are seen as intrinsic to local prosperity. Social outcomes such as decent wages, and enduring social institutions, are key to an area’s sustainable economic success but are too often seen as a barrier to growth. 

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Making work better: an agenda for government

October 2014

In this major Smith Institute report, Ed Sweeney, the former chair of the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), shows that Britain has too many poor performing workplaces where employees are often badly treated, underpaid, over-worked and ignored. The report argues that this long tail of broken workplaces is holding back the recovery and costing the nation billions in lost income and welfare benefits to those in work.

The report, welcomed by Labour, the TUC, and EEF the employers’ organisation, calls on government to do more to narrow the divide between the rest and the best and to positively intervene to tackle problems at work. The evidence to the report demonstrates the urgent need to improve employment conditions and raise management standards as a means to boosting productivity and making work better for the UK’s 30m workers.

The report is the product of a nine month inquiry on the world of work, involving research, interviews, discussion events around the country and opinion polling. It provides a comprehensive and up to date examination of the good and bad in Britain’s workplaces. It calls for a fresh approach to improving employment practices centred on the idea of ‘workplace citizenship’, with employees having a greater say, new employment rights and support for fair pay: including a right to request extra leave after five years of employment; rights to information on executive pay and low pay; extension of free childcare for working parents and ‘use it or lose it’ parental leave; reform of the ICE regulations to strengthen employee voice; and mandatory living wage contracts in all public procurement.

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Making local economies matter: a review if policy lessons from the Regional Development Agencies and Local Enterprise Partnerships

By John Healey MP with foreword from Ed Balls and Andrew Adonis
Published May 2014
This major new report by John Healey MP and Les Newby recommends a radical and accelerated devolution of powers to LEPs to deal with the widening economic divide. The report reviews in detail the policy lessons from the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and concludes that more jobs, growth and wealth generated locally are a vital part of a balanced economy.
The report argues for a fresh commitment to stronger support for England’s local economies and that active policies to promote economic development at local and regional level are essential. It shows that RDA achievements compare well against the LEPs that replaced them, and reveals that from 2000 to 2010 the poorer English regions were able to achieve almost the same rate of GVA growth as the prosperous regions but since 2010 early data show the gap in growth rates is five times greater. 
However, the report concludes that going back to square one will not succeed and that rather than sweeping away the current structures it recommends drawing on the experience of both RDAs and LEPs to make LEPs fit for the future. Based on policy lessons from the last Labour Government’s experience with RDAs and echoing key recommendations from Lord Heseltine’s 2012 Growth Review, the report calls for fewer, stronger, business-led LEPs – with extra powers, larger independent funds and a common sense approach to the areas they cover. 
To make sure that local businesses and communities work well together, the report proposes that there should be joint local government sign-off on the LEP’s economic strategy to unlock substantial single pot of funds.  And to guarantee clear accountability in Westminster, a single Government department should have responsibility for LEPs.

Building the future: women in construction

Meg Munn MP, Professor Linda Clarke, Christine Wall, Barbara Bagilhole, Jane Nelson, Mandy Reynolds, Sarah Davis, Stacey Clifford, Christine Townley, Judy Lowe, Ian Woodcroft, Steve Craig, and Andrea Oates. Edited by Meg Munn MP.

Women have made great advances in the world of work. The employment rate for women continues to rise and today there are more women in work than ever before (now accounting for just under half of the workforce). But, in construction – still one of the largest employers in the UK – progress has been abysmally slow. As the authors of this report point out, women account for only 11 per cent of the construction workforce and just 1 per cent of workers on site. Furthermore, the gender pay gap in construction is still wider than in other industries. In order to fill the skills gap the authors argue it will have to recruit and retain more women, and not just in support roles. This report picks up the challenge facing the sector and shows that change can happen. There are no easy answers, but all the authors are convinced that women must be central to the modernisation of the construction industries.

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Rebuilding the relationship between affordable housing and philanthropy

Stephen Howlett, Dan Corry, Paul Hackett, Stephen Burns, Vicki Prout, David Orr, Theresa Lloyd, Danyal Sattar, Nick Salisbury, Brian Ham, Lord Richard Best, Peter Malpass, Alexsis de Raadt St James

Published September 2013. Price £9.99

This new report undertaken in collaboration with 
Peabody and New Philanthropy Capital, calls for the relationship between affordable housing and philanthropy to be rebuilt. The unique collection of essays brings together experts and practitioners from both the philanthropy and housing worlds who examine how the two sectors can work more closely together. 

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Give them some credit! A survey of the barriers to funding the UK’s automotive supply chain

By Andrew Rumfitt

Published June 2012
This timely and important report is based around a unique in-depth survey of 82 automotive firms operating at all levels in the UK supply chain and employing 18,500 workers. It shows that despite the economic gloom, there is a prodigious ‘window of opportunity’ to create thousands of new jobs in the fast growing automotive supply sector. Expanding the sector will not only support further development of the UK’s multi-billion pound motor industry, but also make a significant contribution to re-balancing the national economy and boosting growth in under-performing regions. However, as this report makes clear, that potential is currently being thwarted by a serious lack of finance, notably from the banks who on the whole have a poor understanding of the sector. The survey, interviews, company profiles and case studies offer a unique insight into what is holding back the sector and provide an evidence base for a more positive dialogue between the automotive supply chain, vehicle manufacturers, the financial community and government. In light of the report’s findings, the author offers a package of practical recommendations, including proposals to enable more finance for tooling, better training, and improvements to government backed schemes.

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Gearing Up: getting more growth capital into the UK’s automotive supply chain

By Andy Rumfitt


Published 2011


This report forms part of the Institute’s ‘policies for change’ programme, which looks at what more could be done to rebuild and rebalance the economy.  The report looks at the relationship between the financial sector and the UK’s fast changing automotive supply chain and provides insights on the market conditions and potential for expanding the sector. In particular, it makes a number of practical recommendations to help increase investment in the critical smaller and medium sized suppliers. 

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We Can’t Carry on Like This! Policy Solutions for the Under-pensioned: Perspectives from Key Players in the Sector

Rachel Reeves MP, Paul Goodwin, Joanne Segars, Oliver Heald MP, Niki Cleal, Diana Holland, Mike Cherry, Phil Mawhinney, Omar Khan, Otto Thoreson, Sally West and Jane Vass. Edited by Rachel Reeves MP.


Price £9.99. Published 2011


This excellent and timely publication forms part of the Smith Institute’s ongoing programme of work on policies for a fairer society. With falling real wages for many, rising levels of personal debt, an ageing population and a bleak economic outlook, the number of people who are “under-pensioned” is set to increase. The contributors to this collection highlight the scale and scope of the problem and offer a range of practical policy solutions. It is the responsibility of today’s politicians and policy makers to ensure that our pensions system is fit for purpose and can meet the demands of tomorrow’s pensioners. We hope that this report pushes the debate forward so that the necessary long-term decisions can be made with cross-party support.

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Unlocking Potential: Perspectives on Women in Science, Engineering and Technology

Meg Munn MP, Sandi Rhys Jones OBE, Sue Ferns, Professor Athene Donald, Clare Thomson, Deidre Hughes, Dr Katie Perry, Gareth Humphreys MBE, Jenny Harvey, Dr Liz Ainsbury, Claire Jones, Arlene McConnell, Monika Sud CEng. Edited by Meg Munn MP.


Price £9.99. Published 2011


John Smith believed that social justice and economic efficiency were two sides of the same coin. This phrase, which guides the work of the Smith Institute, is particularly apposite to the issue of women in science, engineering and technology (SET). Despite rapid progress in other areas of the labour market, women are still under-represented in SET jobs. The authors of this collection of essays highlight not just the inequalities of this situation but also the cost to the UK economy. We hope that this publication, which offers some practical suggestions on how government and the professions can help create a more balanced and skilled SET workforce, will raise awareness of the issue.


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