With the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities gaining more powers over local government finances, there is a possibility that local authorities may lose a lot of the power that they had over their own running.
With the announcement of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, it seems like Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, will be able to put a limit on the amount of money that councils will be able to borrow as well as being able to force a council to “divest itself of a specified asset.” These powers were traditionally reserved for councils that had been placed in special measures.
In an article he wrote for The House, Paul Dennett, Labour Mayor of the City of Salford said:
“Local authorities have huge potential in the levelling up agenda, possessing a wealth of intricate and detailed knowledge of their local areas often overlooked by top-down Whitehall mandarins, in addition to a wealth of expertise in the delivery of services which is near universally overlooked and undervalued within our Westminster-centric politics.”
Considering the fact that Britain is already amongst the most centralised of any government structure across the globe, the removal of key powers from the local governments takes decisions out of their hands, at a time when the central government is trying to help these areas to increase opportunity and regeneration, whilst improving the standard of living.
With the rising cost of living and the mounting pressure on local councils to help their residents, whilst also trying to achieve their levelling up and net zero goals, these councils are in the best position to know where money should be invested and what funding they need, so the removal of powers from them could seriously harm the levelling up agenda.