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Where next for localism?

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Local councils are taking on services to fill gaps as principal authorities cut provision, new NALC/LGC research reveals.

In our survey of local councillors and officers found just under half of respondents said their council had taken on an additional service in the past year.

Most said this extra service was within public realm (47%), with others stepping in to support housing and planning (18%), property management (14%) or transport (10%).

The research also revealed more local were supporting ‘big ticket’ services such as economic growth and regeneration (14%) and health, wellbeing and social care (10%).

NALC/LGC research forms part of our special report on local councils supported by NALC.

NALC would like to see the new government, re-launch the devo project ensuring it is effective and engages all local communities. NALC calls on the government and those in power in other parts of the public sector to think even more positively about local councils because:

  • As the first tier of local government these councils can help provide local solutions to mitigate any negative fallout from Brexit and help build social cohesion.  They can repair people’s disconnection from politics and remoteness from decision-making, and can contribute to local public service delivery during a time of continued austerity.
  • As democratic, accountable and transparent grassroots bodies, local councils can bridge these gaps by engaging with the community to build community cohesion and make decisions about and invest in the economic, environmental and social prosperity of their area.
  • There is an opportunity for local councils to fulfill their localist potential but to do so they need the much needed support and help of government through fair funding, more powers, stronger local democracy, building capacity and increasing engagement.

Local councils are the backbone of our democracy and at the heart of many communities in England.

They provide our neighbourhoods, villages, towns and cities with a democratic voice and a structure for taking action – real people power at grassroots level. 

We need more local democracy with more empowered people and places.

Giving power to local people, when it’s done right, brings democracy closer to home – it’s empowering and can make for better decision-making, less disillusionment with politics and more local accountability and transparency

The report includes case studies of local council work on health and wellbeing, economic growth, housing and planning and devolution to the local council level.

Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC, said: “Its purpose is to highlight the great work of local councils and how they are a vital part of local government and communities. And how they can help principal councils and national government address many of the profound challenges facing us today. 

“It would appear that national politics is in a fluid and uncertain state! Local government has its problems and crisis too but generally remains a strong, stable and constant force delivering for local people and making a difference in communities.”

View NALC/LGC supplement

 

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