This is our evidence submission to the Public Accounts Committee Inquiry on Local Authority Commercial Investment.
In our response we present a number of evidence points. These include:
- This submission focuses on local authority investment in shopping centres, something that has become increasingly common over the past five years but proves to be a risky investment amidst poor returns, declining footfall and shifting consumer behaviour – this is before considering the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
- SIB has been analysing local transaction data which gives an insight into the economic shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic – it shows severe reductions in economic activity in the wards where several local authority-owned shopping centres are situated. The economic shock of coronavirus will have an impact on the long-term viability of any commercial investment and is likely to exacerbate any risks borne by the local authority purchaser.
- There is a place for local authorities to properly invest in their administrative areas. However, this must be targeted to support local economic development in sustainable and resilient ways. This form of patient and long-term investment will be vital to rebuilding local economies in the post-coronavirus recovery period.
We are grateful for the opportunity to comment on this inquiry and would be pleased to provide any further information, evidence or clarification as required. Please contact Will Thomson (Policy Lead) on firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.