Brokenshire calls for a local government green paper

2 Jul 19

The next prime minister must produce a green paper to “look afresh” at local government, the communities secretary has said.

James Brokenshire urged his party’s next leader to produce a green paper for local government and take a closer look at local audit, in his keynote speech at the Local Government Association today. 

“I believe that the next leader of my party will need to look afresh at the entire ecosystem underpinning local government and acknowledge that role we all have to play – to spot problems earlier, champion best practice and help each other improve,” he told delegates in Bournemouth. 

He argued that central government “could and should do more” to identify councils that are struggling financially, to help prevent failure 

“The local audit system, too, could and should step up more robustly – not just because it reinforces confidence in financial reporting., but because it reinforces services delivery and, ultimately, our faith in local democracy,” he added. 

Brokenshire noted that he wants to see a deal that “resets” the relationship between central and local government and added: “I want to see these plans set out in more detail in a green paper and welcome your input”. 

Housing was the government’s “top domestic priority”, Brokenshire said, and suggested it was an area where local authorities must strengthen their ability to deliver. 

“There are no excuses now,” said Brokenshire, in reference to the lifting of the HRA cap last year

Brokenshire pointed to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s accelerated housing green paper, which is currently being drawn up. 

The paper will help councils “build faster and reduce delays”, he claimed.

Also speaking at the conference was new chair of the LGA, James Jamieson, who made a plea to the government to devolve more powers to councils

Jamieson said that Brexit represented an opportunity for local government and urged the central government: “Trust us to deliver and give us certainty through the right funding and the right powers.” 

He urged the Whitehall to provide a “new localism settlement, underpinned by a devolution bill in the next Queen’s speech”. 

“My key ask for the next government will be: give us the powers, freedoms, flexibilities and funding and we will deliver great communities,” he told the conference. 

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