Local Government Finance

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 6:52 pm on 3rd February 2010.

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Photo of Andrew Pelling Andrew Pelling Independent, Croydon Central 6:52 pm, 3rd February 2010

Many of us have confessed our local government experience, and I probably have more to confess in that respect than others, as I was elected to Croydon council in 1982, serving there until 2006, and I also served as a London Assembly Member. If I am allowed to be a little sentimental, I perhaps have an obsessive interest in local government financial settlement systems owing to the fact that my father was a senior civil servant who dealt with these issues in the 1970s, and matters associated with the Layfield report.

It is fair to say that during the extended period of economic growth, moneys to local authorities were very generous. Indeed, the amount given to local authorities has often been greater than the corresponding overall rate of growth in the UK economy. Nevertheless, it is a bad habit of Government to continue to centralise and to restrict the room for manoeuvre for local authorities, despite the slight row back on the part of Government in recent times.

I very much feel that the removal of the business rate inflicted substantial damage on the borough of Croydon and greatly undermined the very good work that Lord Bowness did for Croydon council and the town during the 1980s and early 1990s.

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