Councils’ fury over economy-boost red tape waste

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall
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Millions of pounds is being wasted on bureaucracy for funds aimed at boosting local economies, new research has found.

The study commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) shows £23bn of growth funding is spread across 70 schemes, managed by 22 Government departments and agencies.

The LGA has now called on the Government to replace this fragmented system with a single investment fund, to make things simpler for local authorities and businesses.

Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s people and places board, said: “Millions of pounds and hundreds of days of officer time are tied up just trying to access vital growth funding. This is proving completely counterproductive to our efforts to create jobs, build homes and develop the infrastructure we need to get our economy growing.

“The current system, which requires millions of pounds of public money to be spent on bidding for funds from the public purse, creates uncertainty for businesses and investors. Councils and businesses want to spend this money on improving the economy, not reams of costly bureaucracy.”

The LGA has dubbed the current situation “a maze of complexity”, with different departments using different bidding processes and operating to their own timescales.

For instance, some £10.5bn of skills and employment funding is scattered across 20 national schemes, with councils also having to stay on top of different schemes for things like housing and transport.

The LGA’s research found that in most areas the funding streams had little or no connection to local efforts to drive growth and create jobs. But some progress has been made, as two years ago similar research found that more than £22bn was spread across 120 funding streams managed by 20 Government departments.