A stall in the process to transfer major powers away from Whitehall to local areas is putting billions of pounds of investment and hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk, the Government has been warned.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said the “devolution deadlock” on deals in the last 18 months must end as Brexit approaches so that powers brought back from Brussels can be shared across the country.
Councillor Mark Hawthorne, of the LGA, said: “Councils want to see their communities reap the benefits of having greater powers and funding to build more homes, secure the infrastructure essential to economic growth, improve our roads, equip people with the skills they need to succeed and increase access to fast and reliable digital connectivity for all.
“But there are concerns that devolution discussions have stalled and opportunities are being missed.
“To reignite the devolution process, the Government needs to engage in a debate about appropriate governance arrangements with local areas.
“This is fundamental to ensure that the momentum around devolving powers to local areas is not lost and the billions of pounds’ worth of economic growth, hundreds of thousands of jobs and homes on offer through non-metropolitan devolution deals is not lost with it.”
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “This Government is 100% committed to devolving powers to local areas where there is strong local support for plans to deliver better local services, greater value for money and clear accountability.”
The Sheffield region will elect a new mayor next year and talks are due to begin on extra powers for the West Midlands, he added.
This is the latest in a series of warnings from the LGA which in July accused ministers of dragging their heels over a promise to replace billions of pounds of European funding after Brexit.
Some €10.5bn (£9.6bn) of European Union structural and investment funds have been allocated to local authorities for spending between 2014 and 2020 on a wide range of projects, including business support, job creation and infrastructure.
But the LGA said the Government had given “scarce detail” about how it intends to implement a manifesto commitment to provide a UK shared prosperity fund to replace the money when Britain leaves the EU.
It said it wanted to work with ministers “to help develop a fully funded and locally driven successor scheme”.
Source: Sky News