A REPORT into the future of Warwickshire has found creating two councils would be the best way to save money while improving services.
The independent assessment into the biggest re-organisation of local government across the county in almost 50 years has been completed by Deloitte.
The report will be used as the basis for public consultation.
It was commissioned by the five local district and borough councils ahead of a government white paper on reform, which is expected in the coming months.
Deloitte found creating two councils – north and south – would be the best way to provide better value for money and higher quality services focused on their communities.
Two unitary councils would also foster stronger local leadership, giving clearer lines of responsibility and accountability.
The new authorities would replace the current two-tier system in the county, where the county council is responsible for services such as highways, transport and social care, and the five borough and district councils are responsible for others such as planning, waste collection and leisure.
Views will be sought on options for the county, including the recommended option of creating a unitary council which covers the boroughs of Rugby, Nuneaton and Bedworth, and North Warwickshire, while establishing a second south Warwickshire council covering Warwick and Stratford districts.
While the report found having a single authority for the whole of Warwickshire would save marginally more money overall, different levels of council tax could remove those savings, would ‘diminish local leadership’ and would harm the quality of local service provision.
While the two new unitary authorities would be separate, the report also recommended collaborative working for services such as children’s care and waste disposal, as well as becoming full members of the West Midlands Combined Authority for economic development and transport.
It found the county’s clear north-south divide in terms of the economy, health needs and demographics means having two unitary authorities would represent better value for money than having one authority controlling the whole of the county, saving more than £25million a year in taxpayers money, compared to the current system.
In a joint statement, the council leaders said: “This is about giving our residents great value, great quality local government services, fit for the next fifty years and best able to meet whatever challenges may lie ahead for our communities.
“All local authorities are under financial pressure already, and Covid-19 has only made the situation tougher.
“Saving our taxpayers money while delivering high quality, modern local government services is of the utmost importance. We are keen to carefully consider all the options to achieve this goal and look forward to having a meaningful discussion with those who live and work in the county about the future. If that means reorganising our two-tier system, then we will support that.
“We need to make sure we are focusing the right services on the right people.
“This report is clear that having two separate authorities will deliver the best outcome to our residents while saving money, but we now want to test that with residents and businesses as this conversation continues.
“Publishing this report widely means that there can be informed discussion amongst residents and councils at all levels. This will help secure the best solution for the county and its residents.”