Alistair Darling should bring forward more capital spending in next week’s Budget and focus it on the sort of small-scale projects that councils can start immediately in order to create jobs, the Local Government Association said on Thursday.

In a pre-Budget statement it called for £100m ($149m) to give town centres experiencing shop closures a “facelift”, restoring local buildings and monuments and improving safety. That would create or safeguard 60,000 jobs, the association said.

A further extension of home insulation schemes could create 4,000 jobs and save householders money while money brought forward for road improvements and repair would create jobs and support local businesses.

“Councils have predominantly small-scale infrastructure projects that can be started immediately and will generate a significant number of jobs,” the LGA said, whereas big national infrastructure projects can take months or years to get off the ground.

“Money needs to be spent on projects that will create the most number of jobs in the public and private sectors and that are ready to get underway now,” Margaret Eaton, the LGA’s chairman, said. “We are not asking for more money. This is about using the public money that is available more intelligently”.

The LGA is also calling for small business rate relief to be made automatic which would inject £100m into local businesses that currently goes unclaimed.

“The recession is claiming around 85 small businesses every day, and action needs to be taken to ensure that they’re getting all the help and support that they are eligible for,” Ms Eaton said.

Rules that force developers to reapply for planning permission if a site is not developed for more than three years should be waived, she added.

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