Brexit and local government

What challenges and opportunities will leaving the European Union bring for local government?


The LGA is the voice of local government during the negotiations regarding the UK's exit from the European Union. We use our seat at the table to make sure councils can mitigate the risks and capture the opportunities. 

Questions or comments? Please email brexit@local.gov.uk 


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Key areas and LGA asks

Find out more about the implications of Brexit on local government and our related position and asks.

Securing the future autonomy of local government and reaching a new constitutional settlement post-Brexit.

Leaving the EU should mean we rethink the way decisions are made in the UK. As such the LGA is championing a new constitutional settlement post-Brexit which ensures that powers are devolved beyond Whitehall, Cardiff Bay, Stormont and Holyrood and rest with local communities instead.

Currently, local government has a formal advisory role in the EU law and policy-making process through its membership of the EU Committee of the Regions. Councils have used this advisory role diligently, making sure that law-makers have good advice so that laws and policies governing local services can be implemented at the frontline of delivery. It is fundamentally important to replicate this advisory role post-exit, without creating new bureaucracies, so we can make continue to make better, more effective legislation.

We are also continuing to work with the Committee to explore models for a future relationship, so that British councils can continue to influence EU policy which affects them.

Securing funding investment currently sourced from the EU.

Following the EU referendum, one of the biggest concerns from councils was addressing the potential €10.5 billion (£8.4 billion) UK-wide funding gap for local government that would immediately open up from the point we left the EU, unless a viable domestic successor to EU structural funding was in place.

The Prime Minister has pledged to create a UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to replace the money local areas currently receive from the European Union. This EU money has been vital to create jobs, support small and medium enterprises, deliver skills, and boost local growth across the country, in metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas.

The LGA and council leaders want to work with the Government to avoid defaulting to a silo-approach and creating a like-for-like replacement of the current EU funding programmes, which are often held up in bureaucracy and delay. We are instead working towards a innovative, locally led successor which gives local areas greater say over how to target a simplified regional aid fund at local projects of benefit for local people.

Monitoring the return of EU powers and developing a new legal base for local government.

As EU law is incorporated into the domestic statute, local government has a central role to play in deciding which should be kept, amended or scraped. For example, there are many EU-origin laws which could be improved through amendment, including public procurement, state aid rules and new approaches to waste, recycling and landfill. Equally there are a number of areas where it is helpful for EU-origin laws to remain, including air quality, transport, consumer rights laws and the provision of service regulations. The LGA has identified all such EU laws which impact on local government services and will be working with Government and Parliament to avoid the risks and grasp the opportunities.

We are also responding to the Government's other Brexit legislation as it develops, as well as working to anticipate where UK regulators may gain new powers and ensure that the consequences of secondary legislation at the front-line are understood.

Recognising the differential place-based impacts of leaving the EU.

Brexit will affect each area differently and the LGA has led the effort to capture this by asking councils to set out the impact of Brexit at the local level and undertaking a number of regional seminars to capture intelligence and share this with Whitehall. Our member authorities have highlighted a range of risks and opportunities from leaving the European Union, including impacts for local public services, local growth and regional funding.

As the negotiations continue and the Government's position becomes clearer, we'll be repeating our calls for information in order to make sure the voice of local government is heard.

Highlighting the role of EEA nationals in our workforces and the role of councils' in protecting their communities

Councils play a leading role in bringing communities together and this will be important in tackling the challenges and taking the opportunities of Brexit. For example, leaving the EU represents the possibility of a direct impact on both the local government workforce and the wider national workforce, especially with key sectors such as construction and tourism vulnerable to reductions in the supply of labour from the European Economic Area.

However the UK is already suffering an endemic skills crisis and Brexit provides an opportunity to think radically about how this skills gap might be addressed. The LGA has considered this issue and will continue put forward a positive vision for an integrated and devolved employment and skills service in ‘Work Local’ that will get more people into work, increase their skills and save money. 


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