Laura Sharman 17 November 2017

Single local councils could save £2.9bn a year, says think tank

Abolishing district councils and replacing them with single unitary authorities could save £2.9bn a year, a think tank has argued.

In a new report – due to be published on Monday – ResPublica will set out the case for a new form of local government to revolve the ‘devolution deadlock’.

Devo 2.0: The Case for Counties will call for the urgent reform of the existing two-tier system, arguing that county scale is the right size for councils to take the lead on creating local industrial strategies for their area.

It will propose two models for reform; either single unitary authorities at the county scale, or a reformed two-tier arrangement where county councils act as the ‘Strategic Authority’. In this case, the existing district councils would have cabinet-style decision-making powers.

As well as saving £2.9bn a year by having single local councils, the report will also claim that devolving extra powers to the counties could enable additional growth of up to £31bn over five years.

‘The needless confusion that frustrates the ambitions of business and government alike in our county areas must end now,’ said Phillip Blond, director of ResPublica.

‘With Brexit on the horizon and our city-regions already benefitting from devolution, we can’t afford the waste and complication that the current system creates. Single councils at the county scale are the future and we call on the Government to move rapidly to encourage them.’

The report will also recommend that Government should incentivise change in county areas through encouraging them to pool New Homes Bonuses, business rates and efficiency savings into a single investment fund.

Cllr Paul Carter, chairman of the County Councils Network, added: ‘As ResPublica argues, reformed two-tier structures could provide the pathway to empower counties. These ‘strategic authorities’ would be led by the county council, using their scale over a county geography to make decisions on growth, housing, planning, plus rate-setting abilities.

‘For those who wish to pursue more radical reform, this report clearly illustrates the huge economic and public service benefits of streamlining complex local government structures into singular county unitary authorities.

'Both models will enable counties to rise to challenges both nationally and locally; saving billions through public sector savings and allowing local areas to grow their economies and deliver the Government’s housing ambitions.’

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Payroll Specialist

Essex County Council
Up to £34805 per annum + + 26 Days Leave & Defined Benefits Pension
Closing Date
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Payroll & People Advisor - Permanent

Essex County Council
Up to £27338 per annum + + 25 Days Leave & Defined Benefit Pension
Closing Date
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Payroll & People Advisor - 12-month Fixed Term Contract

Essex County Council
Up to £27338 per annum + + 25 Days Leave & Defined Benefit Pension
Payroll & People Advisor - 12-month Fixed Term Contract Closing Date
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Waste Manager

Isle of Wight Council
£42,923 to £46,402 per annum
We are seeking to appoint a highly motivated individual County Hall, Newport / Agile
Recuriter: Isle of Wight Council

Engineer (Client Team)

Manchester City Council
£35,336 to £39,571 (Bar at £38,553) per annum 
The post holder will be responsible for supporting the Client Team Manager Manchester, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Manchester City Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.