Local authority net-zero plans ‘strangled’ by Government’s inadequate funding pots

A new survey of local authorities has found that navigating bureaucratic systems only to access short-term fund pots is hindering efforts to reach net-zero, with the Local Government Association (LGA) calling for an overhaul of how councils can access climate funding.

Local authority net-zero plans ‘strangled’ by Government’s inadequate funding pots

The LGA has found that more than two-thirds of UK councils are not confident of being able to deliver their net-zero targets, claiming the efforts are being “strangled” by current Government systems.

A quarter of councils, according to the survey are generally unsuccessful in bidding for net-zero funds, while 60% have been dissuaded from bidding due to time and resource constraints. In total, 83% believe that national funding pots are hampered by “an excessive bureaucratic burden” making things like bid writing too time-consuming.

Additionally, 90% of councils do not think that current financial pots are adequate to enable the delivery of net-zero by 2050.

LGA environment spokesperson, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said: “Councils are leading transformative projects across the country, but their innovation is being strangled by the national approach to the transition to net zero.

“We must rise to the challenge of climate change. With an impact on over 80% of emissions from their area – from transport and housing to renewable energy, government will not reach net zero without empowering councils to deliver local climate action in every village, town and city. With the right support, local areas could deliver net zero quicker and for less money, while boosting the local economy and ensuring local people benefit.”

The survey, based on the findings of more than 300 councils, also found that there is hardly any confidence in decarbonising key sectors in a way that is fair and inclusive.

Currently, no local councils in England believe their climate plans are fully aligned with UK-wide legally binding net-zero targets. Research commissioned by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) found that only 8% said their plan was ‘mostly aligned’, meaning that more than nine in ten are grappling with significant gaps.

The report authors argue that this is to be expected when the councils are not receiving clear signals and practical guidance from the central Government.

Financial crunch

In the past six years, eight local authorities have filed for bankruptcy, whereas none had done so in the previous 18 years. Furthermore, one in five local authorities express concerns about facing similar circumstances by 2030.

At the start of the year, UK100, the nation’s cross-party network for local climate action, warned policymakers that short-term fixes will not suffice to alleviate the financial distress that many councils are facing which, in turn, is jeopardising climate efforts.

In response to these findings, Christopher Hammond, chief executive of UK100 and a former council leader, said: “This survey joins the growing evidence base showing the difficulties local authorities encounter in driving net-zero with one hand tied behind their back. Local leaders are the key to accelerating climate action from delivering local energy to retrofitting and building warmer homes, but they are being held back by short-term funding and disjointed powers.

“The quickest, cheapest and fairest route to net-zero is through local authorities. As analysis has shown, local-led action could save the UK £140bn in reaching net-zero compared to a top-down approach, while delivering almost double the energy savings and social benefits. The ambition is there but it is only by ensuring local authorities are empowered and resourced that we achieve our national climate goals while realising the full economic and social potential of net-zero in every community.”

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    To reduce CO2 emissions we must replace natural gas in the turbines, with nuclear power, fission, or. our dream, fusion.
    Not a cheap job.
    Renewables cannot be the answer; very useful, and to be used as much as possible, but not reliable or under our control, and never will be.

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