Nearly half of councils are looking to join a combined authority, survey suggests

The research found that combined authorities were becoming an increasingly attractive option for councils as they deal with funding shortfalls. 78 per cent responded saying that squeezes on infrastructure investment were becoming a major barrier to growth, while 54 per cent believed central government control over funding was also limiting growth.

48 per cent of respondents wanted to see responsibility for economic development devolved to individual district level, along with the 47 per cent that wanted to be a part of a combined authority, indicating a number of districts believe they can strengthen local economies through greater devolution of powers.

Neil Clarke, chairman of the District Councils’ Network, said: “District councils are determined to bring the fruits of devolution to non-metropolitan parts of England and work with partners to pull the levers of growth and opportunity for the people, places and businesses for which we are responsible.

“To do so effectively, however, obstacles to growth must be overcome, including the shortage of infrastructure funding, Whitehall’s control over the purse strings for growth schemes and landbanking by developers.”

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