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Council leaders fear Brexit will hit local exports

More than half of councils expect that local businesses in their area will suffer a downturn in international trade because of Brexit.

PwC’s latest annual survey of local government – The Local State We’re In – reveals 55% of councils expect Brexit to impact international trade for their local businesses.

The survey also found 45% of councils also anticipate a decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) into their local area.

The annual report polled the views of over 100 local authority chief executives, finance directors and  council leaders across the UK.

It also revealed that half of local authorities expect central funding to decline post-Brexit and three-quarters (74%) have no confidence that central government will engage with cities and local government in reshaping regional investment and regeneration funds in a post-EU landscape.

A parallel survey asked 2,000 UK consumers about the performance of their local authority and found that, while 41% of respondents believed their council was responsible for stimulating local economic growth, only 27% believed their council was effectively delivering that growth.

‘For many local government leaders, Brexit is the elephant in the council chamber,’ said PwC’s health, industries and local government advisory leader, Jonathan House.

‘And, while the public focus is on Westminster and leadership politics, the most significant impact of Brexit negotiations will come at local council level, where concerns over FDI and local growth leadership may have a significant impact on provision of public services.

‘Despite continued concerns over Brexit and local and government funding, councils remain focused on delivering growth, business & jobs, and health & integration and these goals have not diminished,’ added Mr House.

‘Their strategy is accurate, however delivering tangible outcomes in a world of uncertainty, austerity and financial constraints is particularly challenging.

‘While councils have the desire and ambition to work collaboratively with other public services, their goals are frustrated by a continued focus on short term financial demands and the day-to-day pressures of maintaining service delivery.’

Photo by Firmbee (Pixabay)

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart

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