The Government has laid out its own plans, including 75% Business Rate Retention and the Fair Funding Review, but to achieve a well-functioning council funding system we need to widen our thinking beyond zero-sum tweaks to the relative needs formula and a narrow focus on Business Rates Retention. LGiU has run the Local Finance Taskforce through 2018 and 2019 to expand this conversation.
The Taskforce has spoken to 245 senior local government figures around the country to focus our collective mind on how to create a truly sustainable financial system that is fair, transparent and provides much-needed certainty. It provided an opportunity for local government to debate a wide range of ideas that should be on the table for consideration.
Throughout this period, the issue has only grown in urgency. This report contains immediate recommendations to Government to assist councils in setting their 2020-21 budgets, as well as sector-approved plans for building a funding system that doesn’t leave the fate of the most vulnerable dependent on the success of their local high street.
There were some clear areas of consensus on the actions required, while other areas were identified as crucial but in need of further exploration. This report brings together these two strands into a set of recommendations for central government and a set of principles that should underpin the design of the future system.
From these recommendations and principles, we lay out a road map for the future that is ambitious, yet achievable with the right political will. It acknowledges the real-world constraints we face and maps key decisions on to key government events and milestones.
We challenge the next Prime Minister to address council funding within his first 100 days in office.