National and Devolved Politics

12.10.17

LGiU moots ‘Mayors’ Senate’ to drive city devolution agenda

The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) has called for greater powers to be given to city leaders and city regions, arguing that “democracy is at a crossroads.”

In a new report released today, the group argues that councils have very little certainty surrounding funding past 2020, and with the government’s business rate retention scheme in limbo, local government should be handed more control.

The local authority members organisation claims the answer is to create a ‘Mayors’ Senate’ and a ‘Commission on Local Finance’, both of which would be controlled locally.

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the LGiU, commented: “Democracy is at a crossroads. We cannot rely on central government alone to guide us through the enormous challenges that lie ahead.

“We need radical change that gives greater power to civic leaders outside Westminster and an overhaul of how local areas are funded, led by local government.

“Our network of local leaders and experts from across the public sector has culminated in this report and we make bold recommendations, which LGiU will take forward over the coming year, including the establishment of a ‘Mayors’ Senate’ and ‘Commission on ‘Local Government Finance’.”

Brexit, along with changes to local government finance and industrial strategy, are some of the “seismic changes” the report lists as reasons for recommending greater devolution.

The group argues that central government is stretched too far and lacks the ability to complete vital work in local areas.

The proposed ‘Mayors’ Senate’ would give directly-elected local mayors from individual and combined authorities the chance to influence decisions on a national level, specifically around the Brexit settlement to begin with.

In addition, the ‘Commission on Local Government Finance’ is a response to fears about ongoing local funding and would undergo systematic reviews of the financial situation, ensuring key services are supported.

“Central government has limited capacity and inclination to focus on local areas. It is local representatives who understand the pressures faced up and down the country, as well as the needs and aspirations of local communities,” Carr-West added.

“We need to draw on the innovation, civic energy and problem-solving capacity that can be mobilised by local government, local communities and local leaders.

“Ahead of the Autumn Budget next month, it is simply unacceptable that councils currently have no certainty as to how they will be funded beyond 2020. We should be talking about local government sustainability, not local government self-sufficiency, and giving councils the funding model they deserve.”

Top Image: omersukrugoksu

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