New LGA leader calls for skills devolution

30 Jun 15

Gary Porter, the new Conservative chair of the Local Government Association, today called for responsibility for training and skills to be devolved to councils.

Speaking at the annual LGA Conference in Harrogate, Porter said the growing skills shortage is holding back vital house building. He said that centrally-set training programmes have led to a mismatch with the skills needed locally. “We’ve trained too many hairdressers and not enough bricklayers. The solution is a wider devolution of public services and we need that sooner rather than later.”

According to the LGA, demand for skills within the building sector has risen 54% since 2013, while there are 58% fewer apprenticeships completed today than in 2009.

Porter argued that giving councils full control over employment and skills services would ensure young people and the unemployed have the chance to acquire the skills needed to build new homes.

“The government has expressed a clear ambition to build more affordable homes and help more people own their own home. Local government has a central role to play to make this happen,” he said.  “Just look at health and social care. Bringing the two together will be cheaper and better for people.”

Porter also urged the government to lift housing borrowing limits to allow councils to invest in new homes, giving councils the freedom to set Right to Buy discounts and retain 100% of the receipts locally.

  • Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith Ugwumadu joined Public Finance International and Public Finance online as a reporter after stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express. Currently, she writes about public finance, public services and economics.

    Follow her on @JudithUgwumadu_

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