Sean Anstee, Executive Director of Public Affairs, PR and Advisory explores the fundamental role that local government must play in the reconfiguration of our economy.
Government appears to be continuing to govern by slogan. The past few weeks have brought us “Build, Build, Build” to which the Opposition responded “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”. This follows “Get Brexit Done” and “Stay Home. Save Lives. Protect the NHS”.
By all accounts, Rishi Sunak appears to be getting ready to “Spend, Spend, Spend” and provide a much-needed shot in the arm to boost the UK’s fragile economy. This intervention is welcome, but our economy is not just in need of restarting; it is being fundamentally reconfigured.
It needs to be positioned to respond to new ways of working, relaxing, shopping, and buying. Even in a world where we have learnt to live with Covid-19 (or better still we have a vaccine) the idea that workers will shlep into and out of major cities on hours long commutes is fanciful. Why spend thousands on public transport when you can spend £11 a month on a Zoom account (without the annoying 40-minute limit)?
The judgements the Chancellor must make now go beyond just kick-starting the economy as it was, or even as he thinks it may be. No, it is more than that.
It requires considered thought about the role our regional conurbations will play in the future and repurposing our cities, towns, and villages accordingly. It means thinking about how and where we live, and what social, physical, environmental, and digital infrastructure will be required for a better work life balance whilst not losing productivity.
Whilst there is an immediacy in the decisions required from the Chancellor, it should not be done at the exclusion of local democracy and institutions. Central Government needs to be working in step with Councils and Local Government needs to be in step with its businesses and communities.
And above all, the entire system of decision making and scrutiny of it needs to improve. When navigating complex issues which generate diverse opinions, anchoring people to a common goal is what the Chancellor must now do to instill confidence.
Confidence to spend, confidence to invest and confidence to change course where required. Slogans do not help with this because they belittle the task at hand. They oversimplify to necessarily complicate.
Here at Cratus we spend our time unknotting complex issues and facilitating discussions that provide confident answers to big questions. Good decisions mean progress and make the system work as it should. There is a responsibility on us all to help make this so.
Because right now, if we all work together, our confidence will return and the slogans will write themselves.
To find out how Cratus can help you navigate local or central government, get in touch with our Advisory team via [email protected]