Response to the Local Finance Bill – An end to dither and delay?

The debate over local government finance has had a relatively low profile but it could effect radical changes to the political geography of this country. We welcome the ambition behind the plans after decades of consultation and debate which has more often than not led to dither and delay.

Giving locally elected councils real powers and incentives to shape local economies is a crucial step towards re-energising local democracy and a long overdue recognition of the key role that local councils have in economic development, especially at this crucial time in the nation’s economic recovery.

The Government has listened to concerns about the equalisation of local rates with proposals for top-ups, tariffs and levies and we look forward to seeing details of the levels at which these will be set. It is essential for local government to have confidence that these proposals will provide them with a stable foundation at a time of financial uncertainty.

With reforms to the Housing Revenue Account, reduction in formula grant and the localisation of council tax relief, councils are working through some fundamental changes and will welcome further clarity on the way ahead so that they can take a strategic view of their futures rather than having to constantly second guess central government’s intentions.