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Solace urges new PM to ‘accelerate’ fiscal devolution

The new prime minister must work with local government to accelerate the devolution agenda and steer the UK through its exit from the European Union, Solace has said.

Mark Rogers, president of Solace, which represents local authority chief executives and senior managers, wrote to Theresa May, congratulating her on becoming prime minister following David Cameron’s resignation.

He urged her to work with local government to ensure the acceleration of the devolution agenda, particularly fiscal devolution, following warnings that it could be threatened by the referendum result.

In his letter, Rogers said: “Both your government and the local government sector share challenging and ambitious objectives.

“The recent referendum result means it is important that all parts of government collaborate in order to build sustainable and cohesive communities that reflect the aspirations of local people. We put local government forward as an important part of this solution, not a barrier to change.”

He also said local government must be involved in negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU. Solace has already written to senior civil servants Sir Jeremy Heywood, John Manzoni and Oliver Robbins offering the insight and negotiating experience of local government professionals to help build capacity and provide a ‘whole-government’ response at this crucial time.

In his keynote speech at the LGA conference, communities and local government secretary Greg Clark said that “a much bigger role for the local” would be needed following the referendum result.

Other issues highlighted by Rogers include greater integration of health and social care, improving children’s services, and understanding the practical implications of the controversial Housing and Planning Act.

He also said that he hopes a joint programme between local and national government to improve leadership capacity will continue, and offers to meet with May to discuss the issues raised.

Trade union Unite and the LGA Labour group have pledged to work together to oppose spending cuts to local government, saying these are likely to continue under May.

(Image c. Hannah McKay from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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