Eric Pickles
The ICLGF says local government and the services it provides are on a cliff-edgeReuters

More than £200bn should be devolved to local governments across England over the next 10 years as councils are on a "cliff-edge" due to the government's cuts.

The Independent Commission on Local Government Finance (ICLGF) argued that the future of local services is dependent on local authorities becoming largely self-sufficient and less reliant on central government.

The group of leading economists, business, finance and public service experts also said, under the plan, Whitehall and Westminster would have a much reduced role in local services like housing, planning, social care and transport and local government funding.

"Local government and the services it provides are on a cliff-edge," said Darra Singh, chair of the ICLGF.

"Councils' success at implementing cuts over the past few years has shielded people from the stark reality that the services they use can't carry as they are for much longer.

He added: "The urgent need for reform is going to be one of the biggest and most important challenges facing the next government.

"Without it, many of the key services which have been part of everyday life for generations may not be there much longer."

The group also urged that pioneer areas – such as well-established combined authorities – take on new freedoms now, with reforms rolled out to other areas over the next 10 years as they become ready.

Local government minister Kris Hopkins said there is "certainly scope" for decentralising funding.

"There is certainly scope for decentralising more funding to councils, by extending the successful introduction of incentives like local business rates retention and the New Homes Bonus," Hopkins said.

"Such measures allow councils to increase their revenues - not by higher taxes, but by growing the pot through supporting job creation, construction and enterprise."