Budget 2020: CCN response

CCN Latest News, CCN News 2020 | 11 March 2020

Today the Chancellor has unveiled the March Budget, announcing investment into roads infrastructure, broadband, and flood defences.

Below, the County Councils Network responds to the announcements.

Cllr David Williams, chairman of the County Councils Network, said:

“Today’s announcements on infrastructure spending, including major investment in fixing potholes, provide some insight on where investment will be prioritised as part of the levelling-up agenda.

“It is extremely important that county areas receive a fair and proportionate share of the pothole funding announced today – something that the County Councils Network (CCN) has argued for strongly. Our research earlier this year showed councils in the capital are able to spend over three times more per mile, due to more generous funding. This must be recognised in the allocations.

“While we await the full details of the government’s infrastructure strategy, we welcome the commitment to significantly expand the scale of investment to try and ensure that all four corners of England benefit. For too long, investment in our towns and rural and coastal communities in counties have lagged behind London and the major cities. With the city regions receiving an extra £4.2bn for their transport systems, the government should seek to channel the bulk of its pledged £5bn investment into buses to those areas outside the cities to replace lost routes and create more services.

“County authorities have a major role to play in working with government to translate this investment into the word-class infrastructure able to support housing and economic growth. More devolved powers for county and unitary authorities, alongside the new Single Housing Infrastructure Fund and planning reforms will be vital to delivering this. The announcement of the new devolution deal in the north of England alongside a long-standing commitment to full devolution across the country is extremely welcome. CCN is working closely with ministers to ensure this ambition can be delivered in the forthcoming devolution white paper.  

“The announcement that flood defences will be doubled is hugely welcome to the communities that have been affected over the last few months. It is imperative that county areas receive a proportionate amount of this funding so they can rebuild defences and support local communities. Separately, the announcement over broadband funding recognises that too many rural and remote areas lag behind the rest of the country.

“With the Coronavirus likely to continue to spread over the coming months, councils’ public health departments have a major preventative and advisory role in delaying the virus. Therefore, we call on the government to publish the allocations for councils urgently.

“These additional resources announced today improve the financial outlook for councils in the next financial year, building on last year’s Spending Round. However, even if councils raise council tax every year to 2025, they still face a funding shortfall of £19bn. The Spending Review, launched today, will now be critical as it provides the opportunity to close this funding gap, whilst levelling-up resource for under-funded county areas.”