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24th June 2016

Solace statement on the outcome of the EU Referendum

On Thursday 23th June 2016, Britain voted in a historic referendum on the membership of the European Union. This is a statement from Mark Rogers, Chief Executive at Birmingham City Council and Solace President:

“The UK has decided to leave the European Union and take powers back from Brussels. This means local government should be redoubling its devolution pressure and taking this opportunity to make our cities and regions the catalysts of change in our country. There is a clear risk that renegotiations with the EU replace the current devolution focus, and an enormous opportunity is missed to place local communities at the centre of decision making.

We need to ensure the money sent to Brussels is now better spent in our local communities. This means ensuring EU funded projects both continue and flourish by making decisions at a local level more closely with the people it impacts.

The economic picture is unclear and potentially damaging to public sector funding. Future income for councils, including the devolution of business rates, need to be reconsidered in a more volatile economic climate. The fiscal squeeze has already fallen too tightly on councils and services are unable to shoulder further cuts.

The future is uncertain. Councils and their partners will need to consider the potential implications on the future pipeline of staff, particularly in shortage areas like social care, nursing and transport, but also move to reassure current non-EU employees of their role in delivering safe and secure public services.

There is a big job for civil servants and local government staff to do to understand the implications of Brexit. We need to work together to ensure power moves to the right place and positive change is accelerated, not destabilised, by the public’s decision.

If the lesson of the campaign is that large swathes of the population are detached from the political process, the answer is not to further concentrate power in Whitehall.”