Today Rishi Sunak has been announced as the next leader of the Conservative party, and will become the new Prime Minister.
Below, the County Councils Network responds to this afternoon’s announcement.
Cllr Tim Oliver, Chairman of the County Councils Network, said:
“On behalf of the County Councils Network’s (CCN) member councils, I would like to congratulate Rishi Sunak on becoming Prime Minister. As a former local government minister, the new Prime Minister knows the vital role county authorities play in delivering economic growth, protecting the vulnerable, and delivering vital day-to-day services that the country relies on.
“We worked closely with the new Prime Minister when he was Chancellor during the pandemic, showing how successful local and central government can be when working as one for local residents and businesses. CCN and its member councils will do all they can to continue this track record of delivery. In particular, we know Mr Sunak is a strong supporter of devolution and recognises the transformational impact devolving powers to local areas could have in boosting growth and in levelling-up. Over the coming weeks, we urge his administration to renew its commitments to the Levelling Up Whitepaper and turbocharge devolution, with at least two-thirds of CCN member councils beginning negotiations on a deal for their areas by the end of this Parliament.
“While empowering counties through devolved powers can do much to achieve the economic ambitions of this government, we recognise this administration’s immediate priority will be taking steps to set out a new fiscal mandate in the statement on October 31st.
“The CCN has been clear about the acute financial challenges facing local authorities at present, driven by soaring inflation and increases in demand for services. With a cost-of-living crisis and the need to grow the economy, it is vital that councils have access to the necessary funding to provide excellent services to residents and support local businesses to drive economic growth and productivity. That is why it is critical that any spending cuts do not fall on local government, with the government at the very least maintaining all the funding commitments made at the time of the Spending Review last year.
“However, the government will need to go further to support councils to cope with rising inflationary costs and prevent reductions to services. CCN recognises that tough decisions will need to be taken to prioritise public spending, and that is why one of the first decisions the Prime Minister and his new Chancellor should make is to delay the forthcoming charging reforms to adult social care services. By delaying the reforms but retaining and reinvesting funding earmarked for these proposals in local government, it would help ease the inflationary and workforce pressures facing social care authorities. We also urge the government to retain a commitment by the previous administration to rebalance funding between health and social care, allocating more of the £13bn committed to tackling the NHS backlog towards councils to help reduce pressure on social care services and the wider health system.”