MPs support greater powers and funding for councils ahead of Queen's Speech

The LGA is calling on the Government to use the Queen’s Speech to bring forward “turbo-charged” proposals for devolution that give all councils across country the power to meet the challenges and opportunities facing their communities over the coming decade.

Ariel shot of Liverpool city centre and the water front including the liver buildings
  • Exclusive polling for the Local Government Association by Savanta ComRes shows that 58 per cent of MPs and 80 per cent of peers agree that councils should be given greater powers and funding to drive employment and training schemes in their areas.
  • Eight in 10 MPs (80 per cent) say councils should have more financial freedoms and powers to build homes in their area and almost three quarters (72 per cent) say they should have more control over local taxes.

The LGA is calling on the Government to use the Queen’s Speech to bring forward “turbo-charged” proposals for devolution that give all councils across country the power to meet the challenges and opportunities facing their communities over the coming decade.

It is councils who know their local areas best and must be central to efforts to level up the stark inequalities that have been exposed by the pandemic. One of the main lessons from the COVID-19 crisis is that a centralised design and control of public services from Whitehall does not work as well as an approach that enables councils to innovate and create new services locally.

There is clear and significant evidence that outcomes improve and the country gets better value for money when councils have the freedoms and funding to make local decisions. Council maintained schools deliver better results for our children, council-run public health services are improving the health of our nation and where councils can influence the local skills agenda, businesses can grow to play a major economic role in the nation’s future prosperity.

Over the last decade, England has taken steps towards greater devolution. However, progress has stalled with no new deals announced since November 2017. As we look to help our communities recover from the impact of the pandemic, it is crucial this is turbo-charged to go further and faster than ever before.

To help local areas across the whole country recover, the LGA is calling for the Government to end the emphasis on devolution deals designed by Whitehall and instead ensure that all councils can support new infrastructure investment, build more homes, join up public services and provide greater access to jobs and prosperity.

This needs to be underpinned by ensuring that;

  • Devolution deals are locally led: there should be no one-size-fits all approach on governance, no standardised deals crafted in Whitehall and those areas able go furthest, fastest should be able to do so. 
  • Devolution deals leave nothing off the table: councils should be given access to the widest possible set of powers including fiscal devolution, such as the local assignment of taxes, and the ability to ‘defragment’ national agencies at a local level to tackle issues such as skills and unemployment.  
  • Devolution is backed by adequate resources: any newly devolved powers and responsibilities must be fully funded and sit alongside a long-term sustainable funding settlement for local government.  

This will not only allow local areas to make decisions on how money is spent and design services that work for their communities but also help the Government meet its ambition to level up the country and reduce demand for higher cost national services. 

LGA Chairman Cllr James Jamieson said:

“The pandemic has shown that, with the right funding and freedoms, councils can improve people’s lives and ensure the successful delivery of those priorities that are shared by national and local government.

“Bringing power and resources closer to all of us is the key for all our communities to thrive.

“Different areas of the country will need their own unique response in the coming months and years. The Queen’s Speech need to empower councils to be able play a central role in levelling up the stark inequalities the pandemic has exposed, develop a green recovery, address skills gaps and level up the economy so that it benefits everyone.”

Notes to Editors

  1. On behalf of the LGA Savanta ComRes polled MPs (between the 9th Nov 2020 - 13th Jan 2021) and  Peers (between the 2nd Nov 2020 - 4th Feb 2021) to test their support for councils having additional funding and powers to support employment and training opportunities in their communities.  The data has been weighted by party and region to be representative of the House of Commons and by party to be representative of the House of Lords.
  2. Recently published research by the LGA compared levels of fiscal devolution between the UK and three other European nations (the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland). It found that local governments in these countries have greater revenue raising powers and retain more of their funding locally.