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Digest: Counties call for joining up of planning and infrastructure powers

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The County Councils Network is calling for the government to offer its members a ‘new deal’, including a sustainable solution to social care and more funding for schools.

In a New Deal for Counties the network is also calling for health and wellbeing boards to be given new powers to oversee sustainability and transformation plans, more focus on pressures in children’s social care and a review of the role of local enterprise partnerships.

The report does not mention local government reorganisation, however it calls for an “enhanced role” for county councils in delivering new homes by bringing together infrastructure and planning functions, the latter which are held by district councils.

In what it describes as its “blueprint for the next five years”, the CCN has also backed proposals put forward by the thinktank Localis earlier this year for the devolution of powers to strategic authorities, including counties. The network is seeking urgent clarification from the Department for Communities & Local Government following recent comments by Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry that suggested devolution should be confined to cities.

The document also says it is “imperative” government continues its commitment to the fair funding review of local government finance.

CCN chair Paul Carter (Con), said: “We cannot continue to deliver high quality frontline services and push through innovation when we are the lowest funded authorities. If new deals are being agreed in other parts of the United Kingdom, then so should the areas that form the backbone of England’s society and economy.”

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