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Comment by Jonathan Carr-West, LGiU chief executive
“Inevitably overshadowed by the European Referendum, the Government continues its programme of devolution, announcing new legislation in relation to housing and planning, adoption and care, transport, and local government finance.
“Although the government has backtracked on the universal academisation of primary schools, they have reaffirmed their long-term commitment to academies. But the focus on academies has drawn attention away from plans to nationalise the school funding formula, which will have far-reaching consequences for the school-system.
“On planning, we welcome a more streamlined Compulsory Purchase Order process and a renewed commitment to neighbourhood planning. The limits to pre-commencement planning orders will be controversial in local government, particularly in the context of the changes already introduced in the Housing and Planning Act.
“At the same time, there are new measures to support English devolution. The renewed commitment to Business Rate retention will be welcomed. The current lack of certainty in local government finance is one of the biggest challenges for long-term decision-making by councils and greater clarity on business rate reform is long-overdue.
“LGiU calls on Whitehall to take a more strategic approach to devolution across all Government departments. Greater local autonomy in transport and taxation and enhanced powers to mayors and to the nations of the UK are consistent with the Government’s devolution agenda. Announcements in children’s services, education and planning move us towards greater fragmentation of local services.”
The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) is a think tank and membership body with over 200 councils and other organisations subscribing to our networks. We work to strengthen local democracy and put citizens in control of their own lives, communities and local services. For more information, visit lgiu.org.