District Councils Network report on local government reform: CCN response

CCN Latest News, CCN News 2020 | 01 September 2020

Today the District Councils Network has released a new report on local government reorganisation.

This follows the release of the County Councils Network’s report on Friday on council restructuring, which contained analysis carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Below, the CCN responds to today’s report.

A CCN spokesperson said: 

“In reforming public services, debate is a healthy thing, but it is important that any debate is based around evidence rather than conjecture and assertions.

“The population comparisons contained in the report use disparate examples of councils in different countries with different culture, powers, and political systems. County councils are far from remote; they are already responsible for 90% of service expenditure, providing hyper-local services within people’s homes such as domiciliary care.

“Unitary counties, including Durham, Cornwall, and Wiltshire, have shown they can bring services closer to residents, reinvigorating community networks, providing a single and unified voice for every taxpayer in the area, and enhance local democracy with empowered town and parish councils. This report significantly underplays the potential role for the tens of thousands of councillors already at this genuinely local level.

“Today’s report offers no new independent analysis, and it fails to consider the risks and costs associated with splitting up county council services if a population limit is enacted. Any authority wishing to put forward a credible business case for unitary reform needs to engage in these issues, not dismiss detailed analysis as simply numbers on spreadsheets.

“Our report with PwC demonstrated that not only does disaggregation come with a multi-billion pound price tag, detailed policy analysis across 20 lines of enquiry outlined the key considerations that are needed to inform the forthcoming white paper and decisions relating to restructuring.”