England & Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland Democracy, devolution and governance

First 100 days to save local government: General Election 2024


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LGIU is calling on all parties and candidates in the upcoming 4 July UK general election to make a commitment to save local government. Our proposed reforms have been developed from a decade of research and in-depth consultation with over 60 leaders and chief executives in UK local government. It’s time to listen to those who know the sector best.

Now that the Prime Minister has called the next general election – to take place on 4 July 2024 – we are here to advocate for local government (as we have done for the last 40 years) and call for the incoming government to commit to immediate action to safeguard the future of local government in England.

This general election couldn’t come at a more critical time for local government.

In our 2024 State of Local Government Finance report, half the councils in England told us that if nothing changes they could go bust over the lifetime of the next parliament.

In the respective Scotland survey, a quarter of councils fear they will be unable to balance the books this year.

At the same time, half of the residents surveyed in our latest polling on public attitudes towards local government see local services getting worse, and only one in four trust the UK  government to act in the best interest of people in their local area.

Together, these multiple crises – characterised by financial fragility, uncertain status and declining levels of trust, represent an existential threat to local government.

That’s not an abstract problem. It’s a direct threat to the services we all rely on: homes, care, children’s services, parks, streets, libraries, and so many more. These are the things which most of us care about most of the time: delivered by the Town Hall, not by Whitehall.

And it’s a problem for central government too. National success has local foundations and no government can succeed without the help of resilient, sustainable councils.

It’s not too late. The winner of the 4 July general election can save local government.

The LGIU Manifesto for the Future of Local Government sets out how.

Based on over a decade of research and in consultation with more than 60 leaders and chief executives in our member councils across the UK, we call for a new covenant between central and local government, based on the core principles of parity of esteem, subsidiarity, embedded autonomy and participation.

There are elements of this new covenant that should be introduced immediately after the election:

  • A commitment to work together in a collaborative manner and a recognition of local government’s democratic mandate.
  • An immediate end to competitive bid funding.
  • A return to multi-year financial settlements and reversion to needs-based funding mechanisms, aligning funding with responsibilities.
  • The creation of a standing forum to allow regular and guaranteed consultation between central and local government.
  • Early consultation on budgets.
  • Early consultation on any developing government policy that would affect local government competencies.
  • Agree Trailblazer devolution deals and open them up to any areas that can deliver on the key tests of governance and accountability.

We call on all parties and all candidates to sign up to these commitments for the first 100 days of a new government ahead of this year’s local government finance settlement.


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