County Councils Network (CCN) published new evidence on the implications of local government reorganisation ahead of the publication of the government’s ‘devolution and local recovery’ white paper.
With councils in shire counties facing billions in rising costs for care services, alongside financial deficits caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the study from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows merging district and county councils in each area into unitary councils could save £2.94bn over five years nationally, reduce complexity and give communities a unified voice.
In response the District Councils Network has released another report on local government reorganisation, citing unitaries are remote and would dilute residents voices and the needs of local communities.
Lincolnshire County Council is far from remote; we are responsible for 90 percent of the money we spend on local services in this county. What could be more local and personalised than essential services for communities including successfully supporting people needing care in their owns homes as well as in residential accommodation. We also provide safeguarding children and adult services, as well as maintaining our Highways, Fire and Rescue, Trading Standards and disposing of household waste – to highlight just a few areas.
Large, rural 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 from the District Councils Network significantly underplays the potential role for the tens of thousands of councillors already at this genuinely local level.
This report offers no new independent analysis, it seems to rely on an emotional response and it fails to consider the risks and costs associated with splitting up county council services if a population limit is prescribed.Cllr Marin Hill, Leader – Lincolnshire County Council
The move to restructure the county’s governance has been led by Lincolnshire County Council, North and North East Lincolnshire unitary authorities, with the seven district councils represented in early discussions with government.