Below, the County Councils Network responds.
Cllr Tim Oliver, Chairman of the County Councils Network, said:
“The County Councils Network (CCN) would like to welcome Michael Gove back to the position of Levelling Up Secretary. Michael demonstrated during his previous time in the department that he was a strong supporter of local government around the cabinet table, and understands the opportunities and challenges facing councils right across the country.
“We worked closely with Michael and his ministerial team to develop the Levelling Up White Paper and then the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, and it is now critical that levelling up is delivered across England. Key to this will be keeping the momentum going on the county devolution agenda, and this should include a clear commitment to the principles underpinning the white paper and turbocharging devolution, starting with announcing the next set of areas to agree devolution deals, and opening up a second round of county deal negotiations.
“Earlier this year Michael committed to providing financial certainty to the sector and we now want to work with him to deliver this. Investing in and empowering county authorities will go a long way to ensuring that local areas can boost economic growth and bolster England’s productivity in the long run, while ensuring that residents have access to excellent services and the most vulnerable are protected.
“But as a result of soaring inflation and increases in demand for services, councils face an extremely challenging few years ahead. It is imperative that the Secretary of State makes a clear case to the Treasury that local authorities cannot have any further funding reductions and he supports the case for additional financial support. This includes supporting our call for the government to delay charging reforms to adult social care in England, ensuring that all earmarked funding is retained and reinvested in frontline services to help meet the inflationary costs facing services this year and next.
“We are also likely to see further proposals on housing and planning put forward in the coming period. This new government should empower county councils with strategic planning powers and a greater role in capturing developer contributions, so that infrastructure adequately matches new development, unlocking further economic growth.”