I hope today’s debate will be a clarion call to them and others about the importance of local government in delivering key services.
The resilience of local councils across the country is a focus of the National Audit Office’s work, and it has real cause for concern. The message I have received from my friends at today’s LGA conference is twofold. First, we must remember that councils are multi-million pound companies, yet they do not know where their funding is coming from past next year. How on earth are they expected to plan without any sense of the medium term, let alone the long term?
Secondly, if we are to shift the burden from central Government to local government, income generation needs to be made easier. Across the country, I am not aware of a single council that has successfully used the referendum mechanism to raise council tax. This is not working. We need another way to make sure councils are properly funded.