Budget 2021: CCN responds

CCN Latest News, CCN News 2021 | 03 March 2021

Today the Chancellor unveiled his 2021 Budget, which included announcements on the Levelling-Up Fund and the Community Renewal Fund, the pilot scheme for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The prospectus for the Community Renewal Fund outlines county councils and unitary authorities as the lead local authority who will bring together bids for funding for local areas, whilst the prospectus for the Levelling-Up Fund outlines that county authorities will be the lead council in bidding for significant transport projects.

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

“This Budget understandably focuses on the ongoing pandemic and economic recovery efforts. We are pleased that the government has listened to the County Councils Network and has acknowledged the strategic role of county authorities in helping to drive growth and recovery through their lead role in delivering the new UK Community Renewal Fund and in bidding for key projects through the Levelling Up Fund. Counties will put forward ambitious proposals, working with local partners.

“Other economic support, such as an extension to the furlough scheme, grants for businesses, new infrastructure bank and next round of Town Deals are all welcome. England’s counties are particularly vulnerable, with over half of their workforce in jobs at risk of widespread closures so it is crucial that this funding is quickly distributed to those sectors and individuals, and the possibility of more support if needed is kept on the table.

“To date, the government has provided local authorities with a sizeable amount of support during the pandemic – but this must be kept under review in the case further substantive costs are incurred this year.

“The Chancellor is right to say that public spending reductions should not bear the burden of reducing the national debt in future years. Councils still face a funding gap that pre-dates Coronavirus which must be addressed in the Spending Review later this year. In tandem with this, it is imperative that the government brings forward proposals to reform funding for adult social care and its Fair Funding Review for councils, both of which were delayed until we get over the worst of the Coronavirus.”