Debate on devolution and district councils, House of Commons, Wednesday 15 November 2017

District councils are experiencing a range of demographic and economic challenges and must deliver services in a context where all councils face a £5.8 billion funding gap by 2020.


Key messages

  • District councils are experiencing a range of demographic and economic challenges and must deliver services in a context where all councils face a £5.8 billion funding gap by 2020.[1]
     
  • By 2019/20, almost half of all English councils, including three quarters of district councils, will no longer receive the revenue support grant. This is on top of district councils in two-tier areas having had a reduction in external income of almost 64 per cent in real terms in the period from 2010 to 2020.[2] If devolution is going to be a long term success, councils need adequate resources in order to deliver for their residents.
     
  • While the election of six combined authority mayors earlier this year marked a significant milestone for devolution in England, it is not the only model of devolution possible. Council leaders want to explore further options for the widespread transfer of powers and responsibilities to the whole of England.
     
  • To ensure new devolution deals are agreed promptly, the Government needs to work more flexibly with local areas and commit the resources necessary to get those deals over the line. We would like to see the Government’s planned Common Devolution Framework help deliver this ambition.
     
  • Brexit presents challenges, but also opportunities to do things differently. Powers repatriated from the European Union must not simply reside in Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont, but instead should be passed down to communities across the country. This includes devolving powers to rural areas to better connect them with future prosperity and bring decisions over public services closer to the people affected by them.
     
  • The Government’s industrial strategy provides a vital opportunity to create a successful, world-leading economy. To get the best benefits for the country, the strategy should reflect the geographic and economic diversity of the UK and must avoid being driven top down by Whitehall.
     

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