Dan Peters 25 November 2015

Spending Review: Councils promised package of new powers

Spending Review: Councils promised package of new powers image

Chancellor George Osborne has recommitted to a ‘devolution revolution’ in today’s Spending Review though he failed to announce any further deals.

Mr Osborne said he wanted the Spending Review to ‘hand back power to local communities’ and ‘spread economic power and wealth’.

Announcing a ‘big package of new powers’ as well as extra responsibilities for local councils, Mr Osborne described it as a ‘revolution in the way we govern this country’.

Additional responsibilities for councils will include the administration of housing benefit, the provision of more help to homeless people and further leadership in the area of public health - despite an anticipated cut to the specific grant.

Mr Osborne added: ‘We’re devolving power across our country. It is the most determined effort to change the geographical imbalance that has bedevilled the British economy for half a century.

‘If we really want to shift power in our country, we have to give all local councils the tools to drive the growth of business in their area – and rewards that come when you do so.’

But no devolution deals were revealed on top of the ones recently signed with Sheffield, Liverpool, the Tees Valley, North East and West Midlands, where elected mayors will be able to raise business rates as long as they secure support from their local enterprise partnership.

Mr Osborne also announced new powers for the devolved administrations, with income from corporation tax going to Northern Ireland and the announcement of legislation that will allow Wales to receive income tax receipts without a fresh referendum.

In addition, he pledged to negotiate city deals for Aberdeen and Inverness, implement one for Glasgow and ‘help fund’ one for Cardiff.

Cardiff City Council leader Phil Bale described it as ‘encouraging news’ that would allow the area to ‘press ahead with our plans to reboot’ the local economy.

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The new reforms mean local authorities need to mobilise, but is this what’s really required? Paul Beaney reports.
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