NLGN calls for additional local authority ‘freedoms’
8 November, 2002

Independent think-tank NLGN is calling upon government ministers to illustrate their commitment to ‘new localism’* by including a number of additional proposals in the Local Government Bill proposed in the Queen’s speech.

Hopeful for a progressive Bill that helps shift the balance of power between central and local government towards an agenda that NLGN and other local government bodies have been pushing, NLGN advocates:

  • a commitment to put a statutory limit on the amount of ring-fenced money and government grant

  • a general freedom for all councils to experiment with new and diverse organisational forms such as not for profit trusts and new types of public private partnership, in order to encourage innovation in service delivery and give choice to citizens (this freedom to be given subject to a requirement to maintain a level playing field between different potential suppliers of services)

  • provision of a general freedom to charge council tax payers for non- statutory, ‘extra’ services and – subject to a local referendum – to go above cost recovery

  • a firm limit, in statute, on the maximum number of strategy plans that central government can demand of local government
  • a commitment to publish the Balance of Funding Review within the next year and for this to contain options for allowing the potential ‘extra’ amount that an authority can raise through new ‘marginal’ taxes (e.g. ‘tourist taxes’) to take the proportion of locally raised funding up by 5% and 10%.

NLGN Executive Director, Dan Corry said today:

“The Local Government Bill is welcome. But if the Government is serious about new localism, it will incorporate these proposals so authorities start to regain real control over their own affairs. With senior figures in both central and local government now appearing to sing in harmony, we have a clear window of opportunity in which to make this happen”.

“NLGN views the potential for a progressive Local Government Bill as the first stage of a rolling programme of legislation that will in time deliver the new localism agenda. Our continuing priority will be to help bring about this change”.

All media enquiries to Ian Parker – 020 7357 0116

Notes:
NLGN is an independent think-tank, seeking to transform public services, revitalise local political leadership and empower local communities.

*Copies of New Localism: refashioning the centre-local relationship ’by Dan Corry and Gerry Stoker can be ordered via network@nlgn.org.uk