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We won't manage decline; we'll innovate for the future

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Local government is not in the business of managing decline.

We have faced significant challenges in the past few years, but we believe that even in difficult times it is our job to find new and different ways to generate income, promote economic growth, support and develop resilient communities and provide good quality services.

EY research has shown that rolling out the lessons of the community budgets nationally could save up to £20bn in five years.

The troubled families programme has already helped turn around the lives of 52,000 families. Local pilots have shown that a devolved youth contract could double the number of young people being helped into work or learning.

Even in difficult times it is our job to promote growth and provide quality services

Integrating health and social care demonstrates the sustainable, long-term approach to services we need to follow. In just 18 months, health and wellbeing boards have established themselves as the place where local political, professional and community leaders come together to make health and care services fit for the 21st century.

There are still significant hurdles to overcome in delivering the better care fund and real social care integration, but the benefits could be staggering. The LGA estimates in its ‘Investing in our nation’s future’ report that helping people to live independently could help save £3.9bn a year.

This is our vision for local government. In order to achieve it, we need the government to give councils more financial powers and flexibility.

That’s why, in our autumn statement submission, we’re calling for greater financial freedoms including more control over business rates and council tax; place-based budgets with the NHS, Department for Work & Pensions and other public sector partners to become the norm; and a commitment that powers, decision making and funding will be devolved so that growth, regeneration and skills are determined locally.

On a range of issues, councils have already proved they can deliver. Now it’s time for the government to prove its commitment and give councils the powers they need to deliver for their communities.

Claire Kober (Lab), chair, LGA’s resources board

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