A majority of the public believe more decisions about crucial services like housing, social care, health and education need to be made closer to where they live.
An opinion poll, carried out prior to this week’s local elections, shows that people living in the North East and South West of England are most eager to see greater devolution from central government to their local authority.
Support for moving more decisions out of Whitehall and closer to people’s homes ranges between 69 per cent in the South West and 64 per cent in the North East down to 52 per cent among those living in London.
The opinion poll was commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and carried out by TNS BMRB.
A separate LGA poll published earlier this month showed that 76 per cent of people in England trust their councillors to make decisions about local services.
Council leaders have consistently warned that excessive government interference in local services is hampering efforts to tackle key issues like unemployment, the national housing shortage and the pressing need for more school places, while also leading to a generation becoming disengaged with local politics.
LGA Chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said:
“As the results of this poll clearly shows, people want more of the important decisions about their local services to be made at their town hall, not hundreds of miles away in Whitehall.
“To engage people in local democracy we need to give them a meaningful local vote. People feel disengaged because they see that councils have their hands tied when it comes to tackling too many of the big and important issues.
“We would like to be building more homes, but government has placed a counterproductive cap on what we can invest. We desperately want to provide new school places where they are needed, but Whitehall has prevented us from opening new council-maintained schools.
“More than 40 million people in England live outside of London, and too many feel that the Westminster village calling the shots when it comes to the running of the public services that underpin their daily lives.
“People trust their council and the decisions that matter to be made closer to home. It’s time that government listened and embraced local democracy by giving our towns, cities and local areas the freedom they need to flourish, freed from the grip of Whitehall.”