Chancellor Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement was a missed opportunity to invest in community infrastructure and create an economy that ‘works for everyone’, Locality has said.
Locality’s Chief Executive Tony Armstrong said: “The Chancellor’s commitment to investing £23bn on infrastructure and innovation in today’s Autumn Statement will most likely generate headlines and signal a bullish approach to economic growth.
“But big ticket infrastructure projects have seduced Chancellors in recent years with no clear and tangible impact on local jobs, local economies and communities. We need a more sophisticated approach if we genuinely want an economy that works for everyone and we need to tackle the deeply-entrenched inequalities across the country by investing in another kind of infrastructure.
“The Treasury has suddenly found hundreds of millions of pounds of public funds to invest in renovating Wentworth Woodhouse in the Yorkshire countryside and Buckingham Palace. But in the rest of the country, precious local buildings and land are at risk of being sold, cut or shut.
“Locality is calling for a new Community Assets Investment Fund to promote resilience and sustainable growth at a local level and give people a greater stake in their local areas as well as control of the activities and services that matter to them.
“£1bn worth of investment – from government, social investment and other funders – over five years to help community groups and organisations to take over the management or ownership of local public land and buildings could save hundreds of public assets; at least one a year in every county and unitary authority in England.
“The Autumn Statement was a missed opportunity to protect our public land and buildings and we’re at risk of losing these precious assets unless urgent action is taken to safeguard them.”