Councils can lead post-COVID-19 'inclusive' recovery

New research published by the Local Government Association shows how councils are striving to build local economies in a way that ensures the proceeds of growth are shared more fairly across communities.

Ariel photograph of Liverpool city centre

Research undertaken by IPPR North and commissioned by the LGA outlines the steps councils are taking to ensure their communities and local economies are more inclusive, with the Office for National Statistics having already raised concerns that people living in the poorest areas of England are twice as likely to die from COVID-19.

What these actions look and feel like relate to the unique needs of each area, from cities and post-industrial towns to coastal areas and rural villages, but they are now a part of councils’ core functions.

The research has revealed councils wider efforts to ensure public procurement prioritises services and goods provided by organisations in their local area; to provide apprenticeships for local people; to link hard-to-reach groups with employment opportunities; to fund employment support programmes; or improve public transport by creating or expanding cycling networks to enable people to travel in more affordable, environmentally-friendly ways.

The report sets out that councils’ ability to put in place council-wide inclusive policies will depend on future funding arrangements and local flexibility to make key decisions in areas such as skills provision.   

Sir Richard Leese, Chair of the LGA’s City Region’s Board, said:

“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic councils across the country have worked hard to ensure that those most impacted by the crisis are able to access the support that they need – whether that be emergency food or supplies, accommodation for rough sleepers, or business rate holidays and grant funding.

“The inclusive economies agenda is a key priority for councils and as we begin to consider the type of world we want to see after this deadly virus, councils’ role as place-shapers will assume greater importance than ever before.

“We need to think radically about how we ensure the future proceeds of any economic reboot and growth benefit the hardest to reach. Now is the moment to re-build our communities, stabilise our local economies and ensure no one is left behind.”

Notes to editors

  • The LGA’s report on inclusive growth, commissioned from IPPR North, is available to download.
  • Previous analysis by the LGA on the ongoing cost of COVID-19 to local services can be found here
  • The Office for National Statistics figures on the number of deaths by socio-economic deprivation can be found here.