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Majority of council bosses braced for ‘negative’ consequences of Brexit

The majority of council leaders and chief executives expect Brexit to have “negative or very negative” consequences” on their local economies, with very few optimistic about the results.

A survey by thinktank the New Local Government Network (NLGN) found that as many as 61% of bosses believe there will be a negative outcome to Britain leaving the EU, although there is a noticeable split across different regions of the country.

Every authority CEO and leader surveyed in the north east of England said they expected negative results along with 93% of those in London. In comparison, only half of those in the south east overall were concerned about an adverse outcome.

However, while roughly a quarter of councils in the country were unsure as to what might happen, there were very few – just 12% – which expected things to improve.

The results reveal deeper concerns about what could happen after the UK leaves, with councils expected to struggle if local economies and business rates are hit.

“We found that 61% of leaders and chief executives believed Brexit would have a negative or very negative impact on their local economy, and only 12% believed it would have a positive impact or very positive impact,” explained the NLGN.

“Weaker local economies would lead to a lower ability to raise revenue through business rates – something which will be crucial with continued uncertainty of local government finance.”

In addition to fears about what might happen after Brexit, a huge majority of councils are also concerned about the communication between authorities and central government on the subject, with 68% agreeing that there is inadequate engagement and just 4% saying the government is giving them enough support.

Part of the problem is caused by council fears over what will replace money currently provided by the EU through Structural Funds.

While the LGA has called on the government to resolve this uncertainty, there is no more information about what could happen, meaning a £4.8bn funding gap could open up across the UK when Brexit is completed.

Top image: andrej k

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