At this key moment in the trajectory of the UK it is crucial to ask what the future has in store for local democracy. This is precisely what we do in Beyond Devolution, the final report of the Local Democracy Network, which LGiU convened throughout 2017 and comprised council leaders, chief executives, academics and experts from across the public sector. Read the full report here.
In the wake of economic upheaval throughout most of the last decade, as well as the seismic impact of Brexit, political life in Britain is struggling to keep pace with events. There are long-term challenges, too: changes in the relationship between citizens and the state; in technology and the ways we interact and communicate with one another; and in the expectations we have of institutions and leaders.
Something has to give.
Empowering the cities and regions of England remains one of the most important issues for government to address and it needs to do it now. Yet the offer to local government so far has been limited. It has stopped short of signalling the radical changes in power and governance that are necessary.
In order to investigate this situation more fully, LGiU convened a high level network of six leaders, six chief executives and seven senior officers from councils across the country, as well as senior academics from four universities and practitioners from organisations across the public sector.
The network, which was kindly supported by the James Madison Charitable Trust, comprised a year-long programme of research, incorporating a series of four meetings that took an in-depth look at some of the bigger questions around governance and developed collective ideas from local government as to how they might be answered.
In this final report, we make the following radical recommendations, which we will be taking forward into 2018:
- A Mayors’ Senate should be established, giving directly elected mayors from individual and combined authorities a firm constitutional role, shaping Brexit and scrutinising legislation.
- A Local Finance Commission, led by local government, should carry out a systematic review of how local areas are funded based on the expertise, knowledge and experience of local leaders.
- A Constitutional Settlement should be pursued in order to provide a framework and consistency over the roles and responsibilities of central and local government.
- An immediate Devolution Reboot to continue devolving power to the cities and regions of England.