The budget had a noticeable emphasis on the role of cities in driving economic growth, with announcements of a new ultrafast broadband deal for cities, new infrastructure focussed around cities, and emphasis on the 24 largely city based enterprise zones. It is good to hear about the City Deal for Greater Manchester, which could open the door for many more localised deals with the Treasury that help councils to innovate. Inevitably though the rest of local government will be left wondering when it will be invited to the party to agree local deals, develop further enterprise zones, and get support for ultrafast broadband.
Planning was a key theme of the Budget and the Chancellor confirmed that there will be a presumption of growth in the new National Planning Policy Framework to be announced next week. This will be a powerful way of making sure that local areas go for growth but it will need to be thoughtfully implemented if it is not to simply undermined the spirit of the Neighbourhood Planning approaches emphasised in the Localism Bill.
Councils will welcome increased money for housebuilding through the ‘Get Britain Building Fund’, the mention of more support for Tax Increment Financing and for help with borrowing costs, although they will want to see the detail.
Councils will also want to see the details on the announcement of Regionalised Pay for central government departments. Will this lead to localised pay in local government?
The LGiU through our work with the Royal British Legion have encouraged councils to look at what more they can do to help support men and women in the armed services. Today’s announcement of full council tax relief is something all councils will want to support, but we do need to know where the money is coming from, particularly as councils are being forced to cut council tax benefit by 10%.