Responding to the Devolution APPG inquiry into the role that central Government has in making a success of devolution in England, Cllr Roy Perry, Chairman of South East England Councils said:
“The Conservative Party 2019 General Election manifesto outlined a commitment to “devolving power to people and places across the UK”.
The manifesto said its ambition was for full devolution across England, with proposals set to be outlined in an English Devolution White Paper. It is disappointing that paper has not transpired.
While we appreciate that the government’s bandwidth has and will continue to be consumed with the coronavirus pandemic, local authorities the length and breadth of the England, and not least in the south east are concerned the proposals are not reduced to local government re-organisation rather than a genuine devolution of powers from the centre to the regions.
Local councils have risen to the challenges brought about by Covid-19, and years of austerity, by continuing to provide essential services to residents and leading on local recovery efforts. Councils have demonstrated that if you put faith in local leaderships they will deliver.
England remains one of the most centralised nations so there is a need to bring real powers and responsibilities closer to local areas, and devolution certainly must not happen and would not be meaningful without fiscal devolution.
Our full response to this inquiry can be accessed here