Kerslake: Powers brought back through Brexit must be given to LG and Whitehall

There has never been a more important time for the local government voice to be heard by Whitehall, to ensure more powers are returned to local areas, Lord Kerslake has stated.

During his speech at the LGA’s conference, after being re-elected as the association’s president, the Peer added that the sector has a key role in understanding and explaining how we reshape services going forward.

The former head of the Civil Service, who is an outspoken advocate of devolution, added that the work in this area “needs to go beyond the current crop of deals already agreed”.

“And powers that come back through Brexit need to be given to local government as well as Whitehall,” he said.

Council leaders will also be vital in finding: “long-term solutions to the health and social crisis that we face”, reflected lord Kerslake, adding that much of the most innovative work on integration is happening in local areas and led by local government.

His call comes after the CQC was instructed to undertake a programme of local system reviews of health and social care in 12 failing local authority areas by the DCLG and the Department of Health.

Last month, the government also indicated that it will start “increasingly scrutinising” local authority performance and look at putting in incentives – or non-incentives – to encourage them to “step up to the mark,” when it comes to effective health and care integration.

Lord Kerslake added that with major financial reforms planned, including the full return of business rates, the LGA will have a key role in making sure that these key changes are workable and provide long-term financial sustainability.

“And of course, we need to keep making the case for the vital role of local government in housing,” he said. “This will be about new supply. But it will also be about ensuring there is a strong and rapid response with regards to the issues raised by the fire at Grenfell Towers.

“This was a tragedy that shocked us all. It is vital that through the public inquiry we learn the lessons to prevent this ever happening again.”

The DCLG has now formed an independent taskforce to intervene in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea following the authority’s handling of the Grenfell Tower incident

Discussing the work of the LGA, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, Lord Kerslake said there have been many positive changes secured to deliver better results for local residents. “For me, the most crucial part of that success has been the ability to speak with one voice,” he concluded.

Top Image: Cabinet Office

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