Local Government Lawyer Insight December 2018 LocalGovernmentLawyer 36 Although a number of pilots pooling business rates are ongoing, the detail of how central government will legislate to deliver the arrangements in due course have yet to be worked out (protecting those that would lose subsidy from those that are likely to gain significantly). The key to driving increased revenue from business rates must be a concentration on Place - making the area attractive to business, bringing inward investment, ensuring that the area is attractive to individuals to live, work and play, to have effective public service delivery across all public services, decent housing of the right type and an eye to becoming as self-sustaining as possible across the whole area. The development of a strategy for growth that is relevant to Place is essential, however that is defined. In some areas the focus might be on a Combined Authority area - in others more specifically to the boundary of a local authority. The boundaries need to make geographic and economic sense and relate to communities of interest on the ground. Connectivity, both through ICT infrastructure and transport, as well as culture, heritage and indigenous industries (e.g. advanced manufacturing; research or financial services) will shape the future strategy for an area to develop and grow and ensure long-term sustainability. Strategies need to embrace not only demographic, funding and service pressures but other challenges and opportunities such as the environment, including flood risk management and energy; Brexit; the impact of internet shopping on the high street; the creation of new communities, rather than just housing, to meet housing demand; influencing the shaping of new sustainable communities; and engaging more effectively with local businesses and the community and voluntary sector. All these issues are important in the context of seeking to provide quality outcomes for residents. Generally speaking local authorities are not shy to innovate (although some are held back by the lack of or inadequate risk assessment). For example, Westminster City Council requested voluntary council tax donations from higher rate council tax payers and received over £1m on a ‘no strings’ basis). Supporting innovation is key, but can be challenging. What is clear is that there is no one size fits all solution, solutions need to be driven by strategic thinking, the needs of the area and its relative strengths and opportunities. The strategic vision for a place needs to be relevant across all sectors and agreed or supported by the major players in the area, to ensure that resources, time, effort and opportunities are identified and driven forward. Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), may not have been welcomed by many, however, they have now been in existence for seven or eight years and have the support of government. The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government published a paper in July 2018 headed Strengthened Local Enterprise Partnerships that requires LEPs to improve governance; develop Local Industrial Strategies with an economic cision for the area based on local consultation; and develop a strong evidence base of economic strengths, weaknesses and comparative advantages within a national and international context that will be supported by robust evaluation of individual projects and interventions. The government is encouraging LEPs to have or create a separate legal personality as a company or be part of a Combined Authority (where they exist) and break free where they are currently hosted by local authorities, by April 2019. The geographic basis of LEPs also needs to be realigned to remove overlaps and to ensure that geographies reflect real functional economic areas. LEPs are here to stay and will be expected to drive industrial strategies locally to provide the long term vision to make 'Britain the world's most innovative economy' – at least until the next election. Whilst local authorities have representatives on LEPs and it is important to work closely with local business through LEPs, local authorities are still best placed to develop, facilitate and deliver elements of a wider vision for the Place and develop that vision into objectives and outcomes for the area over the short, medium and longer term. How will the authority know when it has been successful in delivering the Vision? Key elements will include what does success look like over three - five - ten years – the more aspirational the more likely people are to work together to deliver the aspirations as well as the detailed outcomes desired. Key roles for local authorities include: • Facilitator, which could include promoting social value, addressing market failures, spend to save, support for transport and improved communications, strategic commissioning and incubator for growth; • Investor to promote development; address market failure; to deliver financial returns; or assist in facilitating by sharing risk and reward which could be on market terms (take care over state aid); • Delivery, for example, creating smart cities that are technology enabled, The key to driving increased revenue from business rates must be a concentration on Place - making the area attractive to business, bringing inward investment, ensuring that the area is attractive to individuals to live, work and play, to have effective public service delivery across all public services, decent housing of the right type and an eye to becoming as self-sustaining as possible across the whole area.