Councillors, businesses and members of the public in the South East are more resolute than ever in their desire for financial devolution, says South East Councils (SEC).
As local authorities expect to be overlooked in this week’s Autumn Statement, SEC, which has the majority of councils in the South East as members, is calling on the government to initiate fiscal devolution pilot projects in the region.
New polling for South East Councils by Savanta Comres has today revealed increased trust in local government, strong support for local devolution and for a number of fees and taxes to be managed at local council level rather than by central government.
- 50% of all respondents indicated they have confidence in local councils to make the right decision for local areas compared to just 25% for central government.
- 30% of all respondents thought the Apprenticeship Training Levy should be set and managed regionally.
- One in five (21%) of councillors want Stamp Duty to be set and managed at the regional level.
- 39% of all respondents wanted powers to be devolved to their town, city or borough, while 33% thought county level best, notably 21% said such devolution should be to the South East region level.
Cllr Nicolas Heslop, Chair of South East Councils said:
“All the predictions are grim as we anticipate cuts to public spending that will set back the country’s growth.
“Even before today we are looking at real-terms cuts to public spending amid a recession – this is devastating council budgets, which are already at breaking point. With inflationary pressure and the rising cost of living, a number of local councils have said that local services are at risk as a direct result of rising costs.
“It is time to recognise that the funding model for English Local Government is broken.
“The Chancellor must now give serious consideration to a new approach to funding. Councils need to be empowered to deliver for their communities and to build on the South East’s economic strengths.”
“As one of only two regions to continually make a net contribution to the Treasury, the South East has a strong basis for fiscal devolution. South East Councils is calling on the Government to initiate fiscal devolution pilot projects in the region over a two-year period then assess the benefits”.