Understanding your sector
Understanding your sector

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3.1 Local government

Local government in the UK, consisting of unitary authorities, counties, districts and boroughs, is also a useful source of information about your sector. As this information will be relevant to your local area, this might actually be more immediately useful than the general overview provided by national government. Although many levels of local government are largely responsible for putting national government policy into practice, power has been transferred to them so that they retain some discretion about implementation and will make decisions based on local factors and context.

Many parts of England have two tiers of local government:

  • county councils
  • district, borough or city councils

In some parts of the country, there’s just one (unitary) tier of local government providing all the local services. The three main types are (Source: www.gov.uk:

  • unitary authorities in shire areas
  • London boroughs
  • metropolitan boroughs

They will have different responsibilities for functions, including roads and transport, education, waste, police, fire and rescue, housing, strategic planning, education, libraries, social services and many others.

In the context of understanding your sector, it is important to remember that such bodies will normally consult with local businesses and conduct research on the local economy before making major decisions. This information may be valuable to you when researching your sector and provide you with insights from a different and more local perspective.

As an example, if you look at the business section of Leicester City Council’s website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , as well as useful links to information about health and safety, business courses, trading standards, business rates and so on, you will find links on the site to initiatives to provide a safe and family-friendly city centre, the Leicester Economic Action Plan, and support available for employers to develop apprenticeships. These give a useful insight into the business priorities of Leicester City Council and their possible impact on local businesses and organisations in the near future.

Activity 5 Identifying support available from local councils

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Imagine that you work in a local catering business in Leicester that’s looking to expand its operations. Identify three links to pages on Leicester City Council’s website for local businesses that contain information that might be useful to you in thinking about how you might develop your business or attract more customers. List these in the table below.

Table 7 Finding useful business links on Leicester City Council website
Link Content Value or interest
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Comment

Table 8 contains possible pages that you might have identified. If you found others, then fine – there is no single right answer!

Table 8 Suggested useful business links on Leicester City Council website
Link Content Value or interest

Connecting Leicester

A vision to create and provide a connected, safe and family-friendly city centre Greater number of people visiting Leicester as families and wanting to eat good local food
Support for employers Support and advice available to businesses in training staff through, for example, apprenticeships Potential source of funding for investing in staff development

Apply for a licence or permit

Advice for businesses on the licensing and registration requirements required by law Helps the business to comply with the law in relation to food/alcohol service and entertainment

Knowing about this support, advice and information can help a business, and the individuals working within it, to understand the priorities of their local council and to seize opportunities as they arise. All councils will provide services similar to those detailed on Leicester City Council’s website so are worth investigating in your local area.

While government policies, at national and local levels, might seem remote from most people’s lives, they have a huge impact on the context within which organisations operate. Understanding more about these will help you to make sense of what is happening within the local and wider economy, and to anticipate developments. You can use this knowledge to consider how this might affect your career progression and opportunities.

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