Welcome to July’s edition of the Local Government Finance policy update!
This month we look at the Queen’s Speech and the Secretary of State’s address at LGA Conference 2017 for clues as to the future of local government funding. We highlight the concerns raised in the NAO’s latest research on CAs. And we sum up the discussion on economic strategy from our first Policy Cafe event.
We also have a roundup of our latest policy briefings related to this topic, only available to LGiU members.
And don’t forget to join the debate in our LinkedIn Group and get in touch if you have any comments, questions or suggestions for topics to cover.
100% Business Rate Retention
The future of 100% Business Rate Retention looks increasingly uncertain. There was no mention of it in the Queen’s Speech (along with many other issues facing local government) and there has been silence from DCLG since the election.
Sajid Javid’s address to the LGA Conference this week didn’t shed any more light: the words ‘finance’ and ‘funding’ did not appear at all in his speech (‘trust’, however, appeared 9 times). And LGC reported that, according to a DCLG source, the policy has been ‘effectively suspended’.
Without knowing where their funding will come from post-2020, or whether to continue prioritising local growth strategies with the same urgency, councils are working in very difficult circumstances – and it’s not clear when the answers will come. Jonathan Carr-West argues that it’s time to flex some local muscle.
We held the first event in our member-only Policy Cafe series last week, kindly hosted by Bradford Council. The theme of this session was local growth and economic strategies, and it provided an opportunity for officers from around Yorkshire to compare notes on their approaches.
We heard presentations from both Bradford and Leeds about their current projects. Bradford is making the most of its strong manufacturing sector and low property prices, and investing in skills for its young population. Leeds has been pursuing an ambitious city centre regeneration project and has been using data on business and employment to help boost its startup activity.
For more information about upcoming Policy Cafe events near you, talk to Charlotte Maddix.
Meanwhile, the National Audit Office has been busy compiling information on the new Combined Authorities. They warn that they risk becoming “a curiosity of history” as there is little evidence to back their assumption that devolution will improve local economies. They urge CAs to demonstrate that they can both drive economic growth and also contribute to public sector reform.
Latest briefings (available to LGiU Members only):
- Country, regional and local fiscal balances
- Queen’s Speech 2017
- Housing: State of the nation – Report of the Public Accounts Committee
- Experiments in Universal Basic Income
- Work and Pensions Committee report: Self-employment and the gig economy
The LGiU is working to three policy themes in 2017. This is the July roundup for Local Government Finance. For updates for our other themes, Democracy and Services, visit either page and complete the sign-up form.