Responding to the Devolution APPG’s inquiry into the Levelling Up White Paper, Cllr Nicolas Heslop, Chair of South East Councils said:
“The Levelling Up White Paper outlined a commitment to offer every part of England ‘a devolution deal with powers at or approaching the highest level of devolution’.
The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill is now in Committee Stage, with proposals set to encourage Directly Elected Mayors (DEMs) and Combined County Authorities (CCAs) in negotiations for devolution deals across the country.
While we appreciate that the Government has taken a commendable step closer to empowering local authorities with the toolkit to level up their areas most effectively by devolving power closer to communities, councils across the South East are concerned that the forms of devolution on offer may not match up with what is desired in the region.
Local councils have demonstrated high quality leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic in the face of Brexit challenges and climate change, cost-of-living and now inflationary crises by continuing to provide essential services to residents and leading on the delivery of recovery efforts.
For levelling up to be delivered most effectively by local authorities there is a need to address the absence of meaningful fiscal devolution and ensure that powers are genuinely transferred away from the centre to be exercised from the bottom-up, not merely reorganise how councils are delegated to from the top-down.”
Our full response to this inquiry can be accessed here.