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Let the South East work for UK

South East Council Leaders have united in calling on the next Government to take a more commercial approach to backing future UK-wide success.

In a joint manifesto, South East England Councils (SEEC) and South East Strategic Leaders (SESL) set out how Government can learn from successful businesses.

Businesses invest in profitable sectors; Government should do the same by prioritising investment and devolution of funding and freedoms to South East local authorities. This will maximise profit to benefit the whole UK, delivering a more prosperous Britain, with strong economic growth and excellent public services.

The manifesto, which has cross-party support from across all levels of South East local government, sets out three bold propositions:

  • Let us maximise South East economic growth to help the whole UK

South East jobs, taxes and exports make the nation wealthier and support public spending UK-wide. But we must invest in the South East’s success and its high return projects to secure these benefits.

  • Let us deliver better, more affordable public services for the UK’s largest population

Democratic, locally-led councils can streamline and integrate health, care, emergency and other services. Put us in the driving seat and we will deliver more efficient, people-centred services that voters trust.

  • Let us have the funding and freedoms to deliver

Give us a greater share of investment and local taxes and let us borrow more against future income from development. We will repay your commitment many times over, supporting national growth and excellent public services.

SEEC and SESL set out 8 ways to maximise investment impact, deliver critical infrastructure and raise local stakes in economic growth. A further 10 propositions state how future Government can support local delivery of integrated services that offer better value for money and are more accountable to residents.

Cllr Gordon Keymer CBE, SEEC Chairman and Leader, Tandridge District Council commented:

“The South East is the economic powerhouse of the UK, generating by far the greatest profit to the Treasury, which props up public spending elsewhere – £80bn in the last 10 years. Government must build on this success, allowing us to release our economic potential for the benefit of the whole UK. Take the South East for granted and the whole country will suffer but give us the tools – genuine devolution of finance and funding – and we will deliver greater economic growth and better public services”.

Cllr David Burbage MBE, SESL Chairman and Leader, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead said:

“If devolution is right for Scotland and for Wales, it must be right for the South East with our more powerful economy and greater number of residents. This is not just about equality; it’s about making sound business decisions to maximise UK PLC success and secure quality public services. Devolve to existing South East local authorities and we will deliver far greater returns. Our councils are some of the most trusted, efficient and innovative authorities in the country – strengthen our leadership and we will deliver excellent, more cost effective public services”.

SEEC and SESL’s joint manifesto is available here.

South East England Councils and South East Strategic Leaders promote the views of all tiers of local government in the South East, representing 8.8m residents.


Heather Bolton, Director, South East England Councils
heatherbolton@secouncils.gov.uk, 020 8541 7553