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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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Charitable Legacies in an Environment of Change

Professor Cathy Pharoah and Professor Jenny Harrow

Published 2009

The UK has had a tremendous record of charitable giving, inspired largely by the work of Victorian philanthropists. The introduction of the welfare state reduced the relative level of giving, and our tax system has often been blamed for not incentivising giving enough. Government measures taken in the decade preceding the recession went some way to turning this around, but the impact of the downturn is likely to reverse these gains. It is against this background that this report has been written, taking forward the debate on modern philanthropy which the Smith Institute has pursued in different ways over the past two years. With charitable legacies worth almost £2 billion, they are of immense importance to both the third sector and the beneficiaries of charitable work. However, the impact of the downturn is likely to have considerable negative repercussions for legacy giving. With house and share prices falling, and with many donations made as a percentage of a legator’s estate, the outcome is likely to be that charities receive a smaller absolute, if not proportional, amount. The seriousness of the recession is as yet unknown, but the authors outline possible ways that the sector can weather the gathering economic storm and prepare for sunnier times.

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Social Enterprise for Public Service: How does the third sector deliver?

Kevin Brennan MP, Jonathan Bland, Tom Titherington, Ray Mills, Professor Fergus Lyon, Roger Spear, Alastair Wilson, Michael O’Higgins, Professor Paul Palmer, Stephen Bubb, Ralph Michell, Juliette Ash, Alison Hopkins. Edited by Paul Hunter.

Price £9.95 (ISBN 1 905370 44 X)

Published 2009 This timely publication follows recent work that the Smith Institute has undertaken on charities, philanthropy and social enterprises. Social enterprises are growing in significance, employing 650,000 people and contributing £8.4 billion per year to the UK economy. Much of the sector’s income now comes from the state to deliver public services. For many, social enterprises have the ability to offer a different approach and ethos, between the profit-driven private sector and the one-size-fits-all public sector. However, the sector is still small and faces capacity and capability constraints. With both main political parties committed to growing the third sector, this collection of essays highlights the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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Can Homeworking Save the Planet? How homes can become workspace in a low carbon economy

Tim Dwelly, Professor Colin Mason, Professor Sara Carter, Dr Stephen Tagg, Caroline Waters, Kate Barker, Andy Lake, David Cowans, Richard Simmons, Susheel Rao, Stephen Glaister, Professor Peter James, Gideon Amos, Fiona Mannion, Dennis Pamlin. Edited by Tim Dwelly and Andy Lake.

Published 2008

This publication follows work that the Smith Institute has undertaken over recent years on the environment and the world of work. It also complements the debates we have held on well-being, new lifestyles, and promoting enterprise. Indeed, the subject of homeworking cuts across a range of policy agendas and is as relevant to the business community as it is to trade unions and the environmentalists. As the authors demonstrate, working from home not only reduces the environmental costs of commuting but also the energy expended in building and fuelling office space. The potential contribution to reducing carbon emissions in this way is significant, and has arguably been overlooked for too long. Over 40% of all UK businesses are now homebased, according to BERR. Yet we are still planning our use of property as if we were still in the industrial age, designing-in unsustainable working practices for decades to come. A fundamental rethink amongst policy makers is necessary, the authors argue, in order to realise the full benefits of a low carbon economy. The case for homeworking goes beyond the proven environmental benefits. There are also other tangible advantages to both employees and employers from working at home. With commutes becoming ever longer and more unpleasant, homeworking offers the opportunity for a much less stressful working experience and a better work-life balance. Individuals can work more flexibly, while cutting out the need to commute regularly gives people more free time. The authors also provide evidence that for businesses there are real savings to be had from reducing the need for valuable office space, as well as higher levels of workforce satisfaction, improved staff retention and reduced absenteeism. The trend is towards more homeworking and greater flexibility, with new technologies allowing individuals to connect their homes to the global marketplace. These changes are transforming society and present new challenges to the way we live and work. This collection of essays examines these challenges up close, and concludes that there are lasting individual and collective benefits to be had by moving to a more environmentally friendly homeworking economy.

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