In response to today’s Budget announcement, Cllr Neil Clarke MBE, chairman of the District Councils’ Network (DCN), said: “The strong focus of today’s Budget announcement on continued growth in the economy is welcomed by DCN.
“The vital role played by districts in supporting economic and housing growth is well-understood and DCN supports the clear link the Chancellor has made between business growth, increased housing and investment in infrastructure.
“In addition, the fact that two of the three devolution deals announced, East Anglia and Greater Lincolnshire, encompass some 25 district councils recognises the key role that district areas play in delivering growth.
“We are greatly encouraged that this is the first stage in advancing resources to recognisable economic geographies, where local people can influence decisions that not only affect their own community, but also contribute to the national economy.
“Today, the devolution journey has truly started in district areas, and these deals mark, DCN hopes, the first stage in advancing greater economic freedoms and increased powers to boost local growth, shape places and reform public service delivery for some 22 million people across England.
“The re-confirmation that 100% of business rates will be retained locally by 2020 is welcomed, as is the increased support of small and micro-businesses. However, we will need to more fully understand the longer-term implications of the £6.7bn small business rate relief on the overall resourcing for local government post-2020.”
“DCN looks forward to working with Government and the wider local government family to ensure not just funding stability, but the modernising of public sector resourcing in the round to sustain economic growth and public services.
“On a final point, DCN welcomes the additional funding to allow strategic housing authorities, including district councils, to tackle homelessness. In our view, such funding should be distributed in a simple and straightforward manner, without the need for an overly-bureaucratic bid process.”