Council chiefs have welcomed the Government’s announcement that £20m will be made available to help with Brexit preparations, but warned there are still ‘information gaps’ relating to the UK’s exit from the EU.
The communities and local government secretar,y Robert Jenrick, announced the funding over the weekend and called on local authorities to designate a Brexit lead who could ‘plan intensively’ for leaving the European Union.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s decision to pay out £20m in Brexit preparations follows the Chancellor’s announcement last week that £2.1bn would be made available to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
‘From Whitehall to town halls – everyone needs to be ready to fulfil our democratic mandate to leave the European Union by the end of October,’ said Mr Jenrick.
‘Local government has a vital role in helping to make Brexit a success and it is absolutely right that together we intensify preparations in every community.’
Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Brexit Taskforce, Cllr Kevin Bentley, thanked the Government for ‘recognising the central role councils play’ in Brexit.
‘The funding announced today will help councils continue to co-ordinate their efforts,’ he said.
‘With councils already facing a funding gap of more than £3bn in 2019/20 it is more important now than ever that councils receive the resources they need for their on-going Brexit preparations.
‘Councils are already taking a lead on preparations for Brexit and have been working tirelessly to ensure their communities and businesses are as prepared as they can be given the uncertainty surrounding the process.’
Cllr Bentley added that Brexit preparations must ‘reflect local circumstances’. Local leaders, he emphasised, were best placed to ensure funding goes to the right areas.
He warned, however, that more information was needed before the 31 October, the day the UK is set to leave the European Union.
‘There remains information and advice gaps that councils are facing while helping their communities prepare, which need to be met by the Government,’ Cllr Bentley said.
‘Councils also need certainty to plan for their communities over the longer-term, such as on the domestic replacement for EU funding.’
The Government’s decision to pay out over £2bn to prepare for Brexit follows a warning from the CBI, the group representing British business, that 'no one is ready for no deal’.