Having been snubbed by the Spending Review, the LGA is having another go at Right To Buy (RTB) reform, hoping the Queen’s Speech has scope for councils retaining all receipts and setting discounts locally to boost housebuilding.
Pitching a seven-point plan to boost public services, the LGA proposes a new Housing and Planning Bill to empower council-home delivery – with provision for streamlining the local plan process and greater powers to act where housebuilding has stalled, scrapping permitted development rights – and devolve RTB.
“The next Queen’s Speech is of huge importance to councils and our communities,” said Cllr James Jamieson, LGA Chairman.
“The radical legislative programme we have set out today would give councils across the country the freedoms needed to help solve some of the biggest problems facing the nation, by creating more school spaces, building more homes, boosting economic growth, improving our roads, and equipping people with the skills they need to succeed.
“It would also pave the way towards a long-term, sustainable funding settlement needed to protect services into the next decade and beyond and give certainty to communities that local services can continue.”
Jamieson continued: “Taking decisions over how to run local services closer to where people live is key to improving them and saving money.
“Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland already have a significant say over everything from health services to skills and transport, yet many of England’s communities are still desperate for the same freedoms.
“Renewed momentum around the devolution process is needed to empower councils to make a huge difference to their lives of people and the communities they live in,” he said.
The LGA’s seven-point plan is underpinned by an English Devolution Bill that would hand widespread powers and funding to local areas across the country.
Councils want to see their communities benefit from the full range of opportunities currently available to areas where devolution has already taken place, but the LGA is concerned devolution progress has stalled, with no new deals announced since November 2017.
The LGA cites “clear and significant” evidence that outcomes improve and the country gets better value for money when councils have the freedoms and funding to make local decisions.
As part of its #CouncilsCan campaign, the LGA is calling for the government to use the Queen’s Speech – provisionally set for next month – to also introduce a Building Safety Bill to implement the Hackitt Review recommendations and enshrine toughened new building safety system into law.
The plan urges the government to publish its proposals for the future of adult social care “as soon as possible” to start a nationwide public debate about the value of social care and how it can be paid for.