A new paper from the Local Government Association (LGA) predicts potential clashes between local authorities and autonomous providers like colleges, sixth-form centres and academies.
The paper, a response by the LGA and the Association of Directors of Children's Services to the Government's consultation on the National Commissioning Framework (NCF), says that councils will want to review the pattern of local provision for under-19s to ensure it best meets local needs and does so in the most cost effective way.
"Carrying through such a review will be a major task, and implementing the outcomes will pose major problems in an environment made up of largely autonomous providers," it says.
The paper says there is a "tried and tested" legislative framework in place to change the local pattern of provision in schools. "But there are no similar powers with respect to colleges," it says. "If, in that respect, and as a consequence of insufficient provision, the YPLA (Young People's Learning Agency) directs a local authority, it is not clear what powers the local authority or the YPLA would have to make a change to a college."
The paper calls for a fundamental re-think of the NCF, which sets out the new planning and funding systems for 16-19 education.
Julian Gravatt, assistant chief executive at the Association of Colleges, said: "I think it is important that councils have this role of local scrutiny but I think the thing colleges would be cautious about is if this converts to local planning and control."