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Devolution and local government structures for collaboration and efficiency

26 March 2015

In a climate where collaborative grouping of local authorities has emerged as a model for regional devolution, alongside the obvious financial pressures driven by the current austerity agenda, it is sensible for all councils to consider opportunities to come together to deliver efficiencies and to lobby more effectively for additional powers.

Whilst combined authorities are getting significant press coverage, they are by no means the only option for local government when considering collaboration. Existing powers, for example through delegation of statutory powers and functions under the Local Government Act 1972 and the Local Government Act 2000, may also provide an opportunity to work jointly without the need for a review, publication and approval of a scheme and consultation.

The use of shared service companies, community interest companies, cooperatives, trading companies and other joint models for public service delivery is also increasing. Aside from the clear possibility of such structures delivering efficiencies, revenue and / or sustainability, they can also allow their member authorities to speak with a loud and clear voice on the national stage, and demonstrate that local government is ready for additional delegated responsibilities as highlighted in our recently published report ‘The path to greater regional devolution’ which explores these issues in more detail.

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