The latest report from Balfour Beatty has urged the government to maintain a commitment to devolution in the autumn statement to stop the issue of devolution from “slipping off the radar.”
The contractor’s report, entitled ‘Where now for combined authorities?’, outlines 10 recommendations made to maintain the devolution agenda in the face of political uncertainty resulting from the EU referendum and the resultant government shake up.
The top recommendations made are for the government to maintain its commitment to devolution and to remove the uncertainty around EU funding for local authorities.
Up until 2020, the EU has allocated £5.3 billion of regeneration funds to local councils, however the future of this funding is still not clear as the UK continues to negotiate its way out of the EU.
Mike Reade, Regional Director at Balfour Beatty, said that a possible loss of funding is “certainly a concern” for local government and there is a danger that the devolution agenda may “slip off the radar” if the government places all of its focus on negotiating its way out of the EU.
Reade commented: “It is the uncertainty that hurts. If there is uncertainty on policy and uncertainty on funding, then there is a danger that the momentum of devolution is lost.”
Mr Reade said devolution is important for contractors because it has encouraged local government to become more commercially aware.
This in turn has encouraged local councils to engage with the private sector in making investment decisions.
He said: “From our point of view, discussions taking place around public and private partnerships means we’re starting to see longer programmes of work being talked about.
“If we get to enter into some closer public/private partnership relationships and get more visibility about future programmes, we can be more confident about our future.”