Today Boris Johnson has been announced as the new leader of the Conservative Party and will become Prime Minister tomorrow.
Below, the County Councils Network responds to the announcement.
Cllr David Williams, chairman-elect of the County Councils Network and leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said:
“The County Councils Network would like to welcome the incoming Prime Minister. It is heartening that someone with a background in local government is taking over at No.10. Working in partnership with government, county authorities can help to solve many of the challenges that we collectively face, as well as grasping the opportunities we have as a nation.
“Whilst Brexit will clearly be the number one priority for the new government, we urge the new Prime Minster to make local government funding his immediate domestic priority. Local authorities face a funding black hole of £51.8bn over the next six years. After nine years of austerity where councils have done more than any other part of the public sector to restore the finances of this country, the elastic can be stretched no further.
“Plans and budgets are being prepared against a background of unprecedented uncertainty. Councils need urgent clarity on their funding levels for next year. We accept that the Spending Review may be delayed, but the financial plight faced by well-run councils cannot be ignored if we are to prevent further cutbacks to services. Therefore, local authorities need a significant emergency injection of funding and a longer-term funding settlement.
“At the same time, we ask for a cast-iron commitment to the Fair Funding Review. Whilst a one-year delay in implementing the review may be inevitable owing to the extenuating national circumstances, there is an imperative to finalise the proposals and addressing the funding inequities between rural and urban areas.
“More widely, we stand ready to work with ministers on a positive agenda as we head into the post-Brexit period. If supported by the right devolved powers and funding, particularly in areas such as strategic planning, infrastructure, broadband and skills, county authorities can deliver our shared objectives of strong economic and employment growth for UK plc, sustainable housing growth and improved social mobility for the next generation.”