Close-up of a traditional, worn sign showing the direction to the town hall.

DCN: Government forcing councils to choose between recovery and reorganisation

The District Council’s Network (DCN) has responded to pressure on the Government to combine county council and district council together into a unitary body.

The response comes in relation to a report published by the DCN that sets out problems with forming unitary bodies across England. 

One of the issues raised mentions forecasts for savings across councils, as was brought up by the County Council Network (CCN) last week.

In the report, it says:

“The primary case for county unitary councils focuses on achieving scale and savings. However, as a House of Commons briefing for MPs summarised in 2019, all the evidence is clear that increasing scale is no guarantee for increasing efficiency or improving public services.

“Although there might be some benefit of delivering some services at different levels, including having some services more local, evidence points to other factors playing a more influential role in service delivery and efficiencies, such as political and officer leadership.”

According to the DCN, proposed unitary councils would mean that the average council would be 122 times larger than Germany, 14 times larger than Denmark and 5 times larger than the current average in England.

In the statement by the DCN, it said:

“The Government’s own advice demonstrates that the ‘bulk buying’ approach from enormous councils does not translate into cost savings or performance gains, that evidence shows that as authorities get much larger service delivery gets bogged down in more committees and layers of management that work against efficiency and the ability to respond quickly to events and to be truly accessible to residents and local businesses.”

The District Council’s Network argues that Britain already has some of the biggest councils in Europe and by merging councils together, the voices of many residents could be diluted.

If the proposed plans go ahead, there will be more local councils concentrated in London than in shire counties across England.

Cllr John Fuller OBE, Chairman of the District Councils’ Network, said:

“The coronavirus crisis has demonstrated emphatically that local works best, and that bigger is rarely better. The Government’s own evidence points that way too.  

“Any proposals to abolish districts and transfer services into new enormous councils would be absolute folly and uproot local Government from local communities. The evidence is clear that bigger local Government is not better or cheaper local Government.

“Devolution means decisions being taken at the level closest to the people affected by those decisions, not centralising them into administrations with populations way over a million people, and across geographies almost as large as Northern Ireland.”

 

 

PSE June/July Cover

PSE June/July 21

Looking to the future

Our June/July 2021 edition of PSE delves into a number of key issues facing our public sector, including how we rebuild services, the move to a more digital way of working and the growing climate emergency, diving into real-world examples of success from those who are achieving them across our sector.

Videos...

View all videos
#PSE365: Public Sector Decarbonisation

Be A Part Of It!

Save The Date: 9th September 2021
PSE365: Public Sector Decarboniation Event

PSE has created a full calendar of events to address the most important issues that influence the delivery of public sector services. 

Over 365 days you’ll have the opportunity to hear from a range of highly motivating, informative and inspirational speakers. These speakers will equip you with knowledge and unique insight to enable you to overcome the challenges that you face.

Magazine Feature

Keep communities at the heart of planning

Chris Borg, NALC policy manager

Chris Borg discusses the Planning for the Future white paper and explains the importance of residents and local councils having a say when it comes to planning

More articles...

View all