Workshop on Austerity and Local Economic Development in England – Mapping a Research Agenda
You are cordially invited to attend a two day workshop, organised by the Centre for Urban Research on Austerity (CURA) at De Montfort University, which will bring together leading academics to debate the future research agenda around local economic development and skills in England. A key focal point of the discussions will be the role of local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and new ‘city deals’ in the context of austerity. Almost from the outset, LEPs courted controversy, with many commentators highlighting problems of ‘inadequate resources’, ‘uncertain accountability’ and ‘varying capacity’. How will LEPs perform, how will ‘performance’ be judged, and what do they mean for ‘localism’ and local democracy?
On the economic front, one issue concerns how LEPs might seek to link skills with economic development, and the potential to develop approaches that are better tailored to local needs and which address skills supply, demand and utilisation. If an integrated approach to skills is to emerge locally, then LEPs are surely a key mechanism. Much is likely to depend on their ability to engage local businesses and mobilise employer action around skills, an area that has proven to be challenging in the past. With all actors – LEPs, councils, employers, education and training providers and individuals – facing austerity, there are many challenges. Will local actors be given the resources, freedoms and flexibility to deliver on this agenda? Will policy commitments to ‘localism’ and ‘decentralisation’ be hamstrung by cultures of centralisation at national level, or will local actors find spaces for new, innovative and creative approaches that can be extended and built upon? How all of this will play out at a time of constrained resources remains unclear. What is certain, however, is that there is an exciting and important research agenda here for workshop participants to engage with.
David Bailey (Aston University)
David Beel (Sheffield University)
Gill Bentley (University of Birmingham)
Crispian Fuller (Cardiff University)
John Harrison, (Loughborough University)
Martin Jones (Sheffield University)
Ewart Keep (Oxford University)
Peter O’Brien (Newcastle University)
Andy Pike (Newcastle University)
John Shutt (Leeds Beckett University)
John Tomaney (University College London)
Chris Warhurst (Warwick University)
Jonathan Payne E: email@example.com / T: 0116 257 7236