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David Finch 

Leader of Essex County Council

 



Monday, June 26, 2017

Ministers must utilise ECC ideas, innovation and experience

Wednesday’s Queen’s speech was more notable for its omissions than what it included. If you are the leader of a council which runs adult social care and wants to power up your local economy, the overall feeling could only be disappointment. I know I am not alone here.

Yes, Brexit is important and we need the best possible deal.

But the deal-making to leave the EU is set to sweep all else before it, and that carries substantial risks.

Firstly, we still have a yawning, empty space where we might have expected social care legislation.

As I said earlier this week, the current system is financially unsustainable and the Government needs to utilise the knowledge of local authorities, including Essex County Council, to look at how we can create a long term solution. We know there will be a consultation and within that, we will be making our own case as forcefully as possible.

Then there is the chasm where we expected business rate reform to be. In very simple terms, the Government has been steadily reducing our grant income, but in return local government had been expecting to be able to keep 100 percent of locally-collected business rates, income which would be reinvested locally.

It is missing and this will inevitably put more pressure on already-stretched budgets.

After the General Election, Ministers stated that they are not deaf to public concerns. Equally, they cannot be deaf to the ideas, innovation and experience of local government. Very simply, we need Government to be in listening mode.

So our offer to ministers is simple – we are here. It’d be good to talk. We might have just the insight you are looking for.

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