East Sussex County Council backs calls for more powers

LEWES. County Hall SUS-150522-151022001
LEWES. County Hall SUS-150522-151022001

East Sussex County Council has backed calls for more powers for local authorities in the South East.

Today (May 22) West Sussex County Council led the call for greater autonomy for local authorities.

WSCC argued devolving powers from Whitehall to county council level will enable a more co-ordinated approach to delivering better services for residents, improving the economy, and attracting more investment.

Proposed changes could see local authorities have more fiscal autonomy, and additional responsibilities relating to road and rail infrastructure, health and social care, and employment.

WSCC has already commissioned research into the benefits that would follow for communities in the South East if county councils were given greater autonomy by the government.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said she will now look to work with other councils across the South East to take forward the work and prepare the case for greater devolved powers to be given to county authorities.

The work highlights that seven councils alone in the South East produced more than £133 billion in GVA in 2012 – making them the third largest contributor to the UK’s economy – and they have more active enterprises than Scotland and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority together.

The research emphasises the potential benefits of devolution and the need for central government to change.

It describes an offer to the government that would help sustain growth for the whole UK economy and identifies an initial list of potential ‘devolution asks’.

These are grouped into five areas:

- Fiscal devolution – access to defined additional funding sources.

- Road and Rail Infrastructure – to influence or share planning decisions.

- Employment and Skills – roles in areas such as apprenticeships/troubled families

- Social Care and Health – additional roles in influencing the care market.

- Infrastructure for the Future – broader longer term initiatives.

Councillor Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex County Council, said: “East Sussex County Council is committed to working with Se7 to build a case for the devolution of powers from central government to local authorities.

“We want to see decisions about how services are delivered made closer to the people affected by those decisions, and believe that this will enable us to deliver better public services in a more democratic way.

“With greater control over budgets and the way in which services are delivered, we believe we can help to grow the local economy and encourage greater investment in our county.”