13 December 2010

Local Authority Spending Revealed

Today is an important day for Local Authorities as it will be revealed how much funding they will receive from the central government over the next 2 years.
It is anticipated that this will be a significant cut for many councils. The Localism Bill is believed to give groups in local communities more control over their spending and be able to take control of services previously regulated by central government.

Norman Smith, Chief political correspondent, BBC Radio 4 “Localism is a key part of the Cameron agenda and is regarded as central to building the so-called "big society".
“The aim is to empower local residents and communities so they, and not the state, take more responsibility for services and decision making.”
“The big question though is whether this localism agenda can be delivered without extra money.”
“Critics suspect at a time when local councils are having to cut budgets by 27% over four years placing responsibility on local residents is just cover for cutting council services.”
“Voluntary and community groups are equally sceptical that they will be able to take up the slack if their funds from local government are being cut back.”
“But perhaps the biggest challenge to the localism agenda is the fact that the one ingredient it seems all government reforms require if they are to be a success is - money.”

Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary, speaking to BBC Radio 4 this morning said “local authorities would see a reduction in local authorities' spending – but councils could still provide a "decent service" and save money through changes like sharing chief executives and the way they buy goods and services.”
"I believe it is possible to cut significant sums out of local authorities by simply improving the way local authorities operate."

"They've simply got to wake up to the fact that it is no longer viable to have their own chief executives, their own legal departments their own education departments, their own planning departments - they've simply got to put this together and they've got to look for ways to see these services provided in partnership with local communities."

He went on to say: "I'm expecting local authorities to be able to provide more for less, I'm expecting them to be able to provide a reasonable level of service and I think local authorities shouldn't have some kind of alibi in feeling that these have been imposed from the centre and therefore they've got to provide every single cut on the front line."

The bill will also include a community right to challenge, here by giving community groups or parish councils the potential to take over a local service such a children’s centres.

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