Below, the County Councils Network responds to the speech:
Cllr David Williams, chairman of the County Councils Network, said:
“We welcome the government’s commitment to a devolution white paper. County leaders retain a strong appetite for devolution and will work with ministers to roll out this agenda to rural England. It is imperative that the white paper and any sequent legislation provides a clear framework to inform local discussions, but crucially does not restrict the most ambitious deals being limited to urban metro-mayors. County authorities must be the building blocks of future devolution deals and any supporting structural and institutional reform.
“Legislation is not required to address the biggest challenge facing councils: funding. Earlier this year government provided a substantial injection of additional resources as a down payment to fixing the adult social care crisis, funding for special education needs, and confirmed its commitment to implement the fair funding review. These announcements were welcome.
“However, over the coming months we must maintain the momentum and ensure these commitments turn into detailed policy proposals and a long-term sustainable funding settlement. It is imperative that this administration consults on a wide-range of funding options to place social care on a sustainable financial footing and we welcome the commitment to a social care white paper. Equally, the County Councils Network urges ministers to publish the next stage of the consultations on the fair funding review; ensuring that the review continues in a positive direction to level up funding for historically underfunded counties.
“Elsewhere a new national infrastructure strategy, alongside a commitment to the Shared Prosperity Fund and a Broadband Bill, are policies that we welcome. County authorities have a crucial role to play locally in improving regional infrastructure and delivering the Government’s commitment that all four corners of the country achieve good economic growth. With the right powers and funding, counties can work with their partners to deliver infrastructure development and will continue to assist with the rollout of faster and more reliable broadband.”