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10th May 2022

Solace response to the 2022 Queen’s Speech

Joanne Roney, Solace President, said: “Up and down the country councils and our communities are still contending with the many challenges presented by the Covid 19 pandemic and are now grappling with a cost of living crisis that only makes that recovery harder.

“Local government will have a vital role to play in getting the country back on track, but successfully doing so requires significant new powers and funding, particularly in social infrastructure.

“Today the Government has set out plans for reform across a number of areas of importance for recovery including levelling up, sustainability, and schools.

“Introducing a Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that clearly recognises the role of local authorities as leaders of place is welcome but, given the breadth and depth of the challenge to rebalance the economy and address geographical inequalities and disparity, further meaningful devolution which properly empowers local areas to address issues, such as health and transport, is required alongside a clear agenda to develop a high-skills workforce in all parts of the country.

“We support the ambition of the Energy Bill to transition the country to cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy but wait to see the detail.

“The measures proposed as part of the Schools Bill announced today represents a good step forward in tackling the problem of persistent absenteeism, but in the absence of additional funding, local government’s ability to deliver on its responsibilities in this area will be challenged.

“More broadly, without truly sustainable multi-year finance settlements for local government which enable councils to plan ahead and implement long-term strategies to tackle the long-term challenges we face, supporting communities, tackling inequalities and catalysing local economies, then we  as a country we will be seriously hampered in our ability to improve peoples’ life chances and create thriving communities post-pandemic.

“Solace stands ready to work with Ministers and officials to help the Government realise our shared ambitions.”