The Committee's conclusions and
140. The Committee notes the Government's ambition
to increase the role of local authorities in economic development
and regeneration policy and agrees that the proposed economic
assessment duty is one way to realise this. Concerns over local
authorities' understanding of business, however, were raised in
evidence to the inquiry and the Committee expects authorities
to address any skill gaps before the first assessments are undertaken.
The Committee recommends that the House seek assurance on this
matter as the Bill progresses.
141. The economic assessment duty should not be
seen as an end in itself, however, and there should be a clear
mechanism to ensure the assessments are considered when the regional
strategy is drafted. Despite assurances that this will be the
case by the Minister, this is not reflected in the Bill. If this
part of the Bill is not amended before it reaches the Commons,
the Committee recommends that clause 71(1), Matters to be taken
into account in revision, be amended to ensure that the economic
assessments must be considered by responsible regional authorities
when revising the regional strategy.
142. The Committee also notes the Government's
commitment to provide support to enable local authorities to undertake
this duty effectively. The Committee agrees that local authorities
must be given the capacity required and recommends the Government
should provide a statement setting out how this support will be
provided and how Ministers intend to monitor its provision.