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Phil Hogan TD, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government has launched the local government enterprise and jobs draft strategy ‘Supporting Economic Recovery and Jobs – Locally’, the aim of which is to activate the local authority sectoral elements of the Action Plan for Jobs.

Action 6.5 of the Action Plan for Jobs – 2012 requires the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and local authorities to:

“Develop a new sectoral strategy to promote employment, and support local enterprise by Local Government, to include measures in the area of business charges, local enterprise and business support arrangements, procurement support, local development and community based initiatives, the Green Economy and local government participation in employment support schemes.  These measures will complement, and assist in the delivery at a local level, of other actions set out in this Action Plan”.

The aim of the strategy is to activate the local authority sectoral elements of the Action Plan for Jobs, by identifying those actions where local authorities have direct responsibility alongside those actions which cannot be progressed without the strong sectoral involvement and collaboration, and providing a framework for the local authorities to develop their own local strategies in support of the Strategy.

A draft of the sectoral Strategy is required to be published for consultation by the end of June 2012.  The Strategy, following the consultation phase, is to be finalised and implementation commenced by the end of September 2012.

Examples of existing activity highlighted in the draft Strategy include:Offaly County Council’s partnership with businesses which has helped them reduce water consumption in hotels that significantly reduced Water Charges.  Savings are being obtained through a full audit of a premises and implementing recommended water conservation devices and practices to reduce consumption through the water meter.  Savings achieved have been in the range of 41 percent to 83 percent of annual consumption, and a minimum of €1,500 per annum in water charges, depending on the business.

Commenting on the Strategy, which will complement and assist in the delivery at a local level of other actions in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs – 2012, the Minister said that: “local authorities are very active and have a critical role in promoting the commercial and enterprise interests of their areas, working with other State agencies and local business such as in the tourism, arts, heritage and culture areas. Improved alignment of the community and local government sector, along with the forthcoming reform of the local government sector, will provide additional opportunities to refocus on economic development and business support”.