Top-performing councils could share prize pot of £3m for boosting jobs and skills in their areas

Local authorities that lead the way in boosting jobs, skills and improving their area could be in line to share a new prize pot of £3m.

A new government award for ‘raising prosperity’ will go to top-performing councils at improving town centres, tackling unemployment, boosting skills and training and attracting investment.

This could be through apprenticeships, mentoring for the long-term unemployed, or improving transport links to bring jobs to an area.

Award winners are granted ‘Beacon’ status for a year, receive a cut of £3m, and are required to share their experiences and advice with other local authorities.

Local government minister John Healey said: “I want councils who know their local area best to have a front-line role in delivering new jobs, skills and opportunities to local people – particularly in our most deprived areas, which have the most to gain. “

This follows the announcement in December of £1.5bn funding for the new Working Neighbourhoods Fund, to help people in the most deprived areas of England back to work.

Councils could also soon be required to show on council tax and business rate bills how they have performed on delivering more efficient services and savings over the past year.

Efficiency measures include: re-designing services, sharing back-office functions such as human resources, and streamlining tendering processes to encourage more competitive bids.

Healey said: “Council tax payers and businesses rightly expect ever-improving services and better value for money. They should be entitled to know how their council is performing on efficiency.”

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