My discussion document is about radical devolution to local communities and local government at all levels. It shows how real devolution and empowerment can deliver substantial savings and drive up standards of services.
We have a massive opportunity for significant devolution of funding and function by the removal of regional government and the abolition of a vast swathe of the quangocracy.
But it will remain just that - an opportunity - unless local government collectively organises itself at a spatial level that will give ministers the confidence that the sector has the structural capacity to take on these functions.
Local government cannot expect strategic functions held at the regional and national level to be devolved to it in its current form. It must set out its stall, innovate and adapt to deliver models for this proposed environment.
My paper does not call for reorganisation. Respecting statutory duties and the nature of councils’ operations with other agencies, it proposes devolution to the family of local government in sub-national groups based around city regions and county/shire boundaries.
This will empower the family of local government in each sub-region to decide how it will delegate responsibilities and share the greater responsibility and accountability that devolution will bring.
Under the principle of subsidiarity, cities and counties, districts and boroughs, towns and parishes - clustered with their city/county where appropriate - would all be empowered, driving decision-making much closer to residents.
This building-block approach, with councils coming together at the most appropriate level, would ensure that powers would be exercised as closely as practical to local communities, rising through the local government family the more strategic and spatial they became.
Where, for example, economic development would be better achieved with authorities outside the sub-regional structure or in clusters, the bottom-up approach outlined would enable this to happen.
In addition to savings from the removal of quangos and having a minimal regional structure, the Total Place initiative would be extended. The government expects Total Place and other programmes to save some £9bn - this could be doubled through sub-regional working.
Politicians of all parties agree the importance of empowering local communities and the need for huge cost savings across the public sector.
Local government can deliver both. Acting together, we must convince any government-in-waiting not to hesitate. Never has there been a greater opportunity.
The time is now right for bold and radical reform.
Paul Carter (Con), leader, Kent CC