Local government leaders are calling on all political parties to commit to a 10-point plan to boost vital local services, build homes, create school places, close skills gaps and drive economic growth.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has written to all political party leaders with a list of key pledges they want to see in their manifestos ahead of the General Election on June 8.
“It is vital for the next government to recognise the need to empower councils to deliver for their residents and the country.”
It says these are “essential” to help councils better support their communities and deliver on the challenges facing the nation.
According to the LGA, local government currently faces an estimated overall funding gap of £5.8bn by 2019/20.
The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, wants each of the party’s manifestos to commit to:
- Ensuring councils have the funding they need to provide the vital services that communities rely on, such as collecting bins, filling potholes, maintaining our parks and green spaces, caring for the elderly and protecting children.
- Continuing with reforms to allow local government to keep more of its business rates income, which balances rewarding councils for growing their local economies but avoids areas less able to generate business rates income suffering as a result.
- Agreeing new devolution deals across all parts of England and the UK, including in rural and non-metropolitan areas. Taking decisions over how to run local services closer to where people live is key to improving them and saving money.
- Handing local government a central role in deciding whether to keep, amend or scrap EU laws once they are converted into domestic law. Brexit should not simply mean a transfer of powers from Brussels to Westminster, Holyrood, Stormont and Cardiff Bay.
- Closing the £2.3 billion funding gap facing social care services by 2020. Carrying out a formal review, of which local government leaders play a fundamental part, to help secure a long-term sustainable solution to protect vital support services that care for elderly and disabled people.
- Councils want to resume their historic role as a major builder of affordable homes. They need to be able to borrow to invest in housing and to keep 100 per cent of the receipts from any homes they sell to replace them and reinvest in building new homes and infrastructure.
- Giving councils the resources they need to keep children and young people safe in the future. Children’s services in England will be facing a £2 billion funding gap by 2020.
- Ensuring councils have a role in determining where new schools are created and a say on the type of school introduced to their area. Councils want to ensure every child has a school place available to them. With 91 per cent of maintained schools rated as either outstanding or good by Ofsted, councils must be seen as education improvement partners.
- Working with local government to develop a fully-funded and locally-driven successor scheme for EU funding which gives local areas full control over spending. Local areas in England have been allocated £5.3 billion in EU regeneration funding by 2020 to create jobs, support small and medium-sized enterprises, deliver skills, and boost local growth across the country.
- Devolving funding and responsibility for our £10.5 billion a year national employment and skills system to local areas. This would allow councils to build on their track record of helping more people into work and plugging growing funding gaps.
LGA Chairman Lord Porter said: “Councils have a key role to play in helping to generate economic growth, build homes, strengthen communities, and protect vulnerable people in all parts of the country. It is vital for the next government to recognise the need to empower councils to deliver for their residents and the country.
“The need for financial sustainability for local government is urgent. Councils need fairer funding to continue to provide the full range of services that support their local communities, alongside a fairer funding system for all schools.
“To build new homes, create jobs, provide the dignified care for our elderly and disabled and boost economic growth, all councils also need greater freedom from central government to take decisions over vital services in their area.