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A new report, published today, is calling on councils to be given new powers to charge for local services. The report, from the New Local Government Network think tank, follows Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s demands for new freedoms for local government to raise money from a wide range of new charges.
The Communities in Charge report calls for councils to be freed from Whitehall restrictions to introduce charges for services such as parking, planning and licensing, to vary charges based on usage and to means-test on users’ ability to pay.
NLGN’s report shows that the public would rather ‘pay as they go’ through new charges than see either big cuts or major increases in council tax. At a time of steep reductions in local government budgets, new charges could help maintain the quality of public services in a fair way.
Other areas that could be subject to new charges include health and safety food inspections and planning fees to suit local circumstances.
Report author, NLGN Senior Researcher Nick Hope said:
“Local communities need new freedoms to decide what public services they want and how to pay for them.”
“The power to raise or lower charges for things like parking and planning will be a powerful tool for councils as they try to manage deeply challenging budget cuts. If these charges are managed correctly, they will improve services and drive fairness.”
“With the government committed to localism and devolution, councils should no longer have to operate based on top-down financial prescriptions from Whitehall.”
The report draws on public polling commissioned by NLGN and a series of case studies analysed through the research.