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16.11.17

LGA: Government must speed up devolution to fight funding mayhem

Councils have urged the government to speed up the devolution process and counteract the spread of funding coming from over 70 different centralised sources.

The LGA said individual localised funding pots would create much less confusion and allow councils to spend more effectively and promote growth across the UK.

Currently, more than £23bn spent on growth, regeneration and skills is managed by 22 different government departments and agencies, all offering multiple different funding pots.

But the organisation, which represents local authorities, said devolved skills and employment programmes would be better at addressing specific problems unique to an area.

It also called for a simplified long-term approach to funding for local transport, arguing that this would allow for greater efficiencies and increase the potential for innovation.

“The UK is one of the most centralised economies in the western world, and as a result, has poor levels of productivity,” commented Cllr Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s people and places board.

“Councils are best placed to understand the needs of local economies, but are currently having to spend too much time trying to access growth funding for essential projects to improve their local areas. This is frustrating the efforts of councils to build homes, create jobs and invest in infrastructure, such as transport, to boost our economy.

“Despite improvements, the current system for growth and regeneration funding is still unnecessarily bureaucratic and hindering progress in our towns and cities, as well as creating uncertainty for businesses and investors. Simpler, fewer funding streams would help kickstart more projects more quickly.”

The LGA also said more focus should be put on localised digital connectivity, which it argues would allow better facilitation of deals between communities and mobile network operators as well as the potential for faster and more reliable broadband.

In August, the organisation pointed out that it had been two years since the government’s deadline for devolution deals to be submitted, and yet very little progress had been made.

At that time, the LGA looked to Westminster to release new details after Parliament came back for recess. Today, it is asking for a breakthrough at next week’s Autumn Budget.

Top image: ASKhan Photography

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Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >