05 December 2008
By Paul Dicken
Local authorities should be given a 'long-term work and skills budget' with freedoms and resources to tackle worklessness, an independent review has said.
The review, chaired by the leader of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Stephen Houghton, published its interim report, Tackling worklessness, on November 27.
It recommended boosting the role of upper-tier councils in improving employment opportunities and rates.
It proposed that councils should be able to analyse the causes of unemployment as part of their duty to undertake economic assessments in the Sub-National Review.
Building on Local and Multi-Area Agreements, the review said councils and partnerships should be able to agree six-year work and skills plans with the government in return for additional freedoms and resources.
Other proposals included a requirement on public sector employers in deprived areas to offer apprenticeship places.
Houghton said: 'As a leader of a council where worklessness is a significant issue, I know how difficult it can be for local communities. And our council, like others, is well placed to know what the economic challenges are and how they can be addressed.'
Local government minister John Healey said the report showed the work that was already being done to give councils greater responsibility for improving their area's economic performance.