Responding to the Summer Economic Update announced by the Chancellor, Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:
“The social and economic challenge we face as a nation cannot be underestimated. We are pleased that the Chancellor has acted on council calls by announcing investment in skills, creating jobs, apprenticeships and opportunities for young people. Councils have also been leading calls for a green recovery so initiatives, such as social housing decarbonisation and a focus on green jobs, are also encouraging steps.
“Councils are deeply concerned about local economic decline and rising unemployment. Locally led action will be key if every part of the country is to bounce back from this economic shock. Councils want to work with the Government on how to best target increased national investment to help young people and adults secure jobs and get millions of people back into work.
“With the potential for more than a million young people not in education, employment or training this September, the scale of the challenge facing our young people is enormous. A six-month placement scheme for those facing long term unemployment is positive and this needs to be available immediately, as many were furloughed or lost their jobs or apprenticeships almost four months ago.
“Our recent research found a million green jobs could be created in England by 2050 as the nation transitions to a net zero economy. Localising and devolving skills investment, back to work support and a job guarantee is critical so councils, which are driving the climate change agenda locally, can work with businesses and education providers to ensure everyone benefits from this expected demand for green jobs. We also want to work with government, employers and providers to create green apprenticeship opportunities for young people as part of this green investment package.
“While the measures announced today are positive, there is also unfinished business when it comes to fully supporting councils and some sectors. Councils continue to lead local areas through this crisis and are committed to working with the Government to help communities, but further measures are needed to fully address the severe financial challenges they face as a result. It is also vital that the Government develops a package of support for swimming pool and leisure centre providers if we are to ensure that communities do not see their cherished facilities close forever.
“The next six months have the potential to shape the direction of this country for years to come. With full funding and the right powers, councils can grasp the opportunity to not just recover from this pandemic but to go further and address the stark inequalities the virus has exposed, develop a green recovery, address skills gaps and rebuild the economy so that it benefits everyone.”