November 1, 2019 4.24 pm This story is over 50 months old

Local Democracy Weekly: What do Lincolnshire’s councils want from the next government?

An election is on the horizon

It will be cold and it will be wet, but once the campaign trail is over and the next government takes its seats on the front benches, council leaders will be looking to see if the decision to call an early election benefits them.

Tightened budgets, under pressure local services, devolution and adult social care will be among the priority areas for local authorities, who feel they have held their fair share of burden over the last decade.

It goes back as far as the coalition government, which came into office with ideas to shrink the size of the state and called upon councils to become more self-sufficient.

“We are always told to be more business-like,” City of Lincoln Council leader, Ric Metcalfe, pointed out previously.

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That has been reflected in numerous commercial strategies tabled by local authority leaders, such as Lincolnshire County Council which pledged not to invest outside the region.

But, all of this has come with a lurking sense of uncertainty. Adult social care is under extreme pressure as councils await what the future holds for the service and support grants have been slashed.

Authority chiefs could probably list numerous areas that need addressing by central government. But, for now, they’re focusing on the main issues.

Lincolnshire County Council leader, Martin Hill Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

County council leader, Martin Hill, told Local Democracy Weekly that the authority wanted certainty over fairer funding, among other areas.

“We want a sustainable mechanism for funding social care in the future,” he said.

“We also want genuine devolution so that local areas like Lincolnshire can have more discretion and more say on how they run their own affairs.”

Of course, the election will not be fought solely on what local councils need.

The Prime Minister is not going to stand on his soapbox in the middle of a town centre and take the election fight on fairer funding for local authorities.

Nor is Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, going to focus his party’s entire campaign on giving power back to the regions.

But, once the next government unveils its Queen’s Speech in the coming months, council leaders will be watching and digging through the detail in the lookout for hope and clarity.

Because, at the moment, they could all use some.

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