Public Statement



Public Practice is expanding its placement programme to the North of England, to include the North-West, North East and Yorkshire & the Humber regions.

This announcement comes as Public Practice’s national Local Authority Resourcing and Skills Survey finds that difficulties attracting skilled staff is by far the largest recruitment issue faced by local authorities, cited by 79% of the survey’s respondents.

Public Practice, the social enterprise with a mission to build the public sector’s capacity to improve places, plays a key role in supporting public sector authorities to identify gaps in the capacity of planning and place-shaping teams. The organisation then matches skilled candidates to year-long placements with authorities, which are supported by learning, development and knowledge sharing activities.

Until now, Public Practice’s Associate Programme has focused on the South East and East of England, where it has established a successful track record helping to tackle local authorities’ recruitment issues to support the development of homes and communities.

In February, Homes England with the support of the Department of Levelling Up, Homes and Communities (DLUHC) launched their investment of just over £200,000 in Public Practice, to enable the not-for-profit’s expansion across the country.

Today’s announcement is Public Practice’s first step towards this and emerges from three months of extensive consultation and research to build evidence to shape the direction and approach for how it will expand its programme nationally.

As part of this, Public Practice’s Local Authority Resourcing and Skills Survey was designed to build understanding of skills gaps and the impact that a lack of resources has on officers and their teams across England.

Levels of interest, networks of cross-regional working and local ambitions all played their part in this choice of region and proves the basis on which Public Practice expects to receive sufficient interest from the North for a viable cohort for its placement programme.

Call for local authorities and candidates

  • Public Practice recruitment is now open for placements in the North (North-West, the North East and Yorkshire & the Humber regions) and also in the South East (London, South East and East of England regions) from the 25th of April to the 30th of May.

  • Public Sector bodies – including Combined Authorities, Local Authorities, County Councils, and Unitary Authorities are invited to express their interest here

  • Applications from built environment experts with a minimum of three years of experience are invited here.

National research findings:

Public Practice’s Local Authority Recruitment and Skills Survey gained 353 responses from local authority officers across the country.

Key findings included:

  • 79% faced difficulty attracting appropriately qualified or skilled candidates, the most common issue with recruitment by far, nearly 30 points above the next most pressing difficulties cited by around half of all respondents, such as funding, retention, or recruitment delays

  • There is a clear demand for built environment skills across the board, with the following areas prioritised by more than half of all respondents:
    • Digital & Data (64.3%)

    • Architecture, Urban Design and Master Planning (62.2%)

    • Environmental Sustainability (60.3%)

    • Ecology & Biodiversity (56.5%)

  • As a combined geography, the North has ambitious recruitment plans for the next 12 months.

Anna Rose, Director of Public Practice, says:

Public Practice is ideally placed to work with Local Authorities to help them to identify their personnel needs and to work with them to find the people to fulfil them.

Public Practice has built up a wealth of experience in this field and can offer this to authorities in the North of England as part of their expansion plans with DLUHC and Homes England. Local Authorities are facing many challenges and yet alongside this are opportunities. Public Practice is part of the capacity-building solution which will ensure that Authorities can capture the opportunities as they are presented."

Peter Freeman, Chair of Homes England, says:

“I am delighted that Public Practice has announced its expansion into the North.

Authorities throughout England have told us that skills and expertise shortages are some of the biggest barriers they face to make homes and communities happen. Public Practice has a proven model for bringing these vital skills from the private sector to local government, and this is an important step towards extending this country-wide.

We set up the Local Government Capacity Centre to support just this kind of solutions-focused work, and I am confident that expanding Public Practice’s unique programme to the North-West, North East and Yorkshire & the Humber will make a real difference."