This will be the Government’s first Budget following the General Election and the UK’s Exit for the European Union and is an opportunity for councils to play a key role in kick-starting the delivery of national domestic priorities and reforms.
- This will be the Government’s first Budget following the General Election and the UK’s Exit for the European Union and is an opportunity for councils to play a key role in kick-starting the delivery of national domestic priorities and reforms. Councils are ambitious about delivering high quality services, maximising the growth potential of their local areas, and supporting national priorities, such as housing delivery with the appropriate powers and funding. This Budget is an opportunity to make decisions about long-term reform and the investment required in local services.
- Councils can support the Government’s National Infrastructure Strategy, as recommended by the National Infrastructure Assessment. They play a key role in delivering priorities, such as fixing the nation’s roads and tackling environmental challenges. Delivering high speed broadband and high-quality mobile connectivity everywhere is also a key priority that councils can help deliver. The strategy should recognise this with appropriate funding and local levers to unlock the investment required. This submission also calls for reform of Right to Buy, investment in technology to reshape services, and more opportunities for councils to borrow for housing and infrastructure projects at favourable rates.
- To help local authorities and their partners boost local growth following the UK’s exit from the European Union, it is vital that the Budget kick-starts the consultation process for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – the intended successor scheme to EU funding.
- Devolution can support national ambitions to lead to better local public services, bringing the decisions that matter closer to local people and helping councils to build sustainable and inclusive local economies. The Budget is an opportunity to add more detail to the Government’s plans, announced in the Queen’s Speech, and this submission contains proposals for empowering local areas in England. The repatriation of powers from Brussels must not stop with Whitehall.
- To maximise the value of taxpayers’ money, long-term certainty over funding is crucial for councils to set new long-term strategies. Government should facilitate financial planning by setting out the direction of travel for 75 per cent retention of business rates and its review of relative needs and resources. The business rates review is an opportunity to give councils more power over local taxes, streamline the appeals process and combat business rates avoidance.
- Ambitious investment and public service reform must be built on a stable financial foundation. Despite the welcome certainty and additional funding announced for 2020/21, council core services continue to be under significant pressure, having lost nearly £15 billion of core government funding over this decade, and nearly a quarter of staff since 2012. The 2020 Spending Review must provide sufficient funding and certainty for councils in the long term, including a long-term solution for funding adult social care.