The UK is falling behind its competitors in the race to secure low-carbon growth and jobs, claims a new report from the Work Foundation

The employment analysts blame a lack of investment in the UK, which they say is being exacerbated by weak support from the government for low-carbon industries.

The Work Foundation suggests that cities and councils could do more to overcome political inertia in government to take advantage of local opportunities for low-carbon jobs growth.

The think-tank recommends that, where possible, local authorities work to develop an “ecosystem” for high-tech low-carbon businesses, by strengthening links between universities and businesses in their areas, and by providing essential infrastructure.

Many low-carbon companies will seek to co-locate, says the report, with the wind turbine factory in Hull proposed by Siemens, for example, likely to attract other wind-energy goods and services companies.

The report acknowledges that the highly skilled, high-tech jobs often associated with a low-carbon economy will not happen everywhere, and are likely to be concentrated in places that already have strengths in high-tech industry.

But, where there is little opportunity to develop high-tech low-carbon businesses, the Work Foundation suggests that authorities focus on improving the energy efficiency of the local housing stock, including enabling residents to take advantage of the government’s green deal scheme, which is due to launch in October.

The government recently reported that almost 940,000 people were employed in the UK’s low-carbon environmental goods and services sector in 2010/11, a 2.8% increase on the previous year.