Local authority leaders have welcomed the prime minister’s announcement that 100 towns will receive £3.6bn in funding, but warned councils still face an £8bn funding gap.
Speaking at the Manchester Science and Industry Museum over the weekend, Boris Johnson said he intended to start ‘answering the pleas of some of our left behind towns.’
Mr Johnson told his audience that his Government would bring forward plans on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and expand Growth Deals in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
He also said that the £3.6bn Towns Fund, that would be made available to an initial 100 towns, will help improve transport and broadband connectivity and give a boost to ‘vital social and cultural infrastructure’, such as libraries.
The new PM also said that he would give greater powers to council leaders and communities.
‘We are going to level up the powers offered to mayors so that more people can benefit from the kind of local government structures seen in London and here in Manchester,’ Mr Johnson explained.
‘We are going to give more communities a greater say over changes to transport, housing, public services and infrastructure that will benefit their areas and drive local growth.
‘And in doing so, we will see to it that every part of this country sees the benefits of the potentially massive opportunity that will come from Brexit.’
Responding to the announcement, Cllr James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, said it was ‘good news for local communities and businesses seeking to improve their prospects.’
'It recognises that democratically elected local councils have a key role to play in delivering better transport links, digital connectivity, housing, and all the important infrastructure like parks and libraries that creates strong communities and economies,’ he continued.
‘The prime minister has rightly acknowledged the need to bring decision-making closer to local people. It is vital that communities in all parts of the country have access to the benefits of devolution.
‘When councils have the freedoms and funding to make local decisions, there is clear and significant evidence that outcomes improve and the country gets better value for money.’
Cllr Jamieson added that he looked forward to working with the new PM on devolution, but he warned that councils face a funding gap of £8bn by 2025.