LGA - Millions in rural England risk being 'left behind' post-Brexit, councils warn

4 Jul 2019 10:15 AM

Millions of people living in rural England are at risk of being 'left behind' and missing out on their fair share of future prosperity following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, council leaders warn today.

The Local Government Association set up a Post-Brexit England Commission to examine the challenges and opportunities faced by non-metropolitan England. Its final report, published at the LGA’s Annual Conference in Bournemouth today, argues that the challenges facing rural areas can only be met by passing down greater powers to local areas.

Towns and villages outside the big cities are facing unique challenges but are increasingly frustrated that the levers of power continue to be held in Westminster and Whitehall.

LGA analysis finds the crucial issues faced by communities outside of England’s cities include:

Without their fair share of investment, councils are concerned that the brain drain away from rural areas and towards bigger cities and towns will continue. A new survey carried out for the LGA found 7 in 10 rural residents believe councils are best placed to improve their local areas and deliver the services communities desperately need. In sharp contrast, just 2 per cent said they believed central government was best placed to meet the needs of rural areas.

The LGA is calling for the Government to use the Spending Review to address the £8 billion overall funding gap facing councils by 2025.

Government also needs to recognise the growing sense of disconnection in rural England and the historic opportunity by giving councils the powers and freedoms to seize the initiative and make sure their communities and businesses can thrive.

This includes by:

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Chairman of the People and Places Board, said:

“Rural residents and businesses deserve an equal stake in the nation’s future success. They want the same level of digital connectivity as their urban counterparts, jobs that reward their hard work, their fair share of public investment and are keen to take advantage of new opportunities for international trade.

“As Whitehall and Westminster have become increasingly pre-occupied with delivering Brexit, local councils have got on and delivered crucial services and investment for their residents.Our hard work and commitment is reflected by the enormous trust placed in councils by residents.

“Our message to Government is simple, give councils the powers they need to help people get on with their lives and address a deepening divide between rural and urban areas of England.”


Councils in England face an overall funding gap of £8 billion by 2025. The LGA’s #CouncilsCan campaign aims to influence the forthcoming Spending Review and highlight the growing risk to vital local services if the Government does not take action to secure the financial sustainability of councils.