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Think Tank says unitary councils could save 2.9 billion pounds a year

Published 20th November 2017

Abolishing district councils and replacing them with single unitary authorities could save £2.9bn a year, a think tank has argued.

In a new report published today – ResPublica sets out the case for a new form of Local Government to revolve the ‘devolution deadlock’. Devo 2.0: The Case for Counties  calls for the urgent reform of the existing two-tier system, arguing that county scale is the right size for councils to take the lead on creating local industrial strategies for their area.

It proposes two models for reform; either single unitary authorities at the county scale, or a reformed two-tier arrangement where county councils act as the ‘Strategic Authority’. In this case, the existing district councils would have cabinet-style decision-making powers.

As well as saving £2.9bn a year by having single local councils, the report will also claim that devolving extra powers to the counties could enable additional growth of up to £31bn over five years. ‘The needless confusion that frustrates the ambitions of business and government alike in our county areas must end now,’ said Phillip Blond, director of ResPublica. ‘With Brexit on the horizon and our city-regions already benefitting from devolution, we can’t afford the waste and complication that the current system creates. Single councils at the county scale are the future and we call on the Government to move rapidly to encourage them.’

The report has been widely covered by local media such as the Staffordshire Express and Star which says that under the report district councils, such as Stafford, Cannock Chase, Lichfield and South Staffordshire, should be abolished with budgets and building portfolios transferred to parish or town councils.

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