Laura Sharman 04 August 2020

Call to scrap two-tier local government system in rural areas

The ‘confusing' two-tier model of local government should be abolished and replaced with single unitary councils, a report has argued today.

The report, published for the County Councils Network (CCN), calls on the Government to move to a system of single tier local authorities, with new powers for town and parish councils.

It argues this would deliver the greatest financial benefit and make it easier to develop local economic recovery strategies.

Making Counties Count, written by Henham Strategy and led by Nick King, recommends the Government should avoid splitting counties and insist on a minimum population for new unitary authorities of 400,000, with no upper limit.

Nick King, founder of Henham Strategy and former chief of staff to Sajid Javid said: ‘Local Government in England is baffling to most people and in clear need of overhaul: two-tier Government is simply less effective, less efficient and less sustainable. Whilst simplifying structures by creating more unitary councils, the Government should also put significant powers into local hands.

’We need broader and deeper devolution across the board with counties made into engines of growth and given new powers to deliver on that ambition. If the government believes the powers it has given to mayors are the best way of driving growth, they should give those same powers to counties immediately.'

A YouGov poll also shows that only 9% of people believe that England's regional metro mayors should have more powers than county leaders. Half of the public say county councils should have equal if not greater powers than metro mayors.

Paul Dossett argues that counties should be at the forefront of government plans to level up.

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