- Responding to the Queen’s Speech, Cllr Neil Clarke, Chairman of the District Councils’ Network, said
- “The Queen’s Speech underlined the importance the Government places on housing growth. In the absence of a new Housing Bill, district councils call on the Government to help meet the shared aim of delivering more housing through the development and implementation of secondary legislation at the earliest opportunity. These include measures around Starter Homes and changes to the National Planning Policy Framework in order to encourage an expansion of the type and tenure of new homes to meet need. The DCN also calls for amendments to the Right to Buy receipts, increasing the time available to spend them and the ability to retain 100 per cent of Right to Buy receipts to build new homes; unlocking planning permissions that are not being developed, lifting the borrowing cap for the housing revenue account; and future certainty over rent setting policy and the sale of high value assets. In our central role in delivering all types of housing, the ambitious challenge of building over 225,000 new homes a year remains, and districts are – and will continue to be – at the forefront of delivering the country’s housing needs since they already enable one out of every two new homes in England.
- “The DCN is disappointed and concerned that there appears to be no Local Government Finance Bill. It is vital that the Government makes good its stated intention to move to 100 per cent retention of business rates by 2020. We call on the Government to urgently confirm its intentions for the 100 per cent retention of business rates by local government and provide certainty around future local government funding. The very significant cuts in funding already imposed on local government have disproportionately affected District councils and many are now reaching a financial tipping point, therefore any new system of funding must be sustainable for local authorities in the short, medium and long-term and encourage local growth. Additionally it will be crucial that all areas can invest in long-term growth, in consultation with businesses, including the ability to use an infrastructure levy if there is agreement locally.
- “As the housing and planning authorities, district councils play a key role in driving growth, prosperity and economic development across the country by delivering local growth. Districts are leading efforts to drive efficiency, innovation and local growth and stand ready to play a key role in delivering the Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy by being a central partner in delivering local industrial strategies in localities. We call on Government to devolve the existing skills budget to localities to ensure the ambitions of the Modern Industrial Strategy can be realised at a local level.
- “The consultation on social care announced today must provide for a long-term and sustainable funding solution for social care, as the funding crisis has impacted directly on district councils for example through the reduction in the New Homes Bonus. Districts are a key partner in improving the relationship between health, the social care system and communities. We call on the Government to recognise our central role in reducing the adult social care within the consultation. The DCN also supports the review of existing mental health legislation and would encourage a holistic approach which considers the vital importance that district councils can play in supporting those with mental health issues.”
- Ends –
The District Councils’ Network is a member led network of 200 district councils. We are a Special Interest Group of the Local Government Association (LGA), and provide a single voice for district councils within the LGA and to Central Government.
- The District Councils’ Network was established in 2009 and works on behalf of all district councils nationwide.
- 200 district councils are represented on the Network’s Assembly by council leaders nationwide.
- An elected group of leaders represent the district councils nationwide on 22-strong Member Board.
- A corresponding group of Chief Executives represent councils on the Chief Executives Group. https://districtcouncils.info/ Twitter: @districtcouncil