The Government has today invited councils in three areas to submit proposals for the creation of unitary local authorities by April 2023.
It said invitations were being issued to councils in Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Somerset as these three areas were ‘advanced in their discussions about local government restructuring’.
The Government said local government secretary Robert Jenrick would consider all proposals received ‘against the longstanding criteria for unitarisation’ that has been in place since 2010 before deciding which, if any, to implement.
Criteria for successful proposals are that they should ‘improve’ an area’s local government, ‘command a good deal of local support across the area’ and cover an area that provides a ‘credible geography’.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the size of any unitary council would be considered, but ‘should always take into account local identity and local geography, as well as economies of scale’.
It said moving to a unitary structure ‘can improve decision-making and deliver value for money for local residents’ but added councils could also opt for ‘different administrative reforms including merging district councils, joint committees, adopting joint plans, sharing back-office services, special purpose vehicles to promote regeneration or delivering cost-savings through efficiency measures’.
Mr Jenrick said: ‘Where there is local support, changing the structure of local government can offer better value for money and improved services for residents.
'We have always been clear that any restructuring of local government must continue to be locally-led and will not involve top-down solutions from government.’