Spending Review: districts bid for council tax powers

8 Sep 15

District councils have called on Chancellor George Osborne to devolve powers to allow authorities to undertake local council tax revaluations.

The District Councils’ Network’s submission to the 2015 Spending Review said greater fiscal freedoms across England would allow authorities to boost economic growth and improve services to 2020.

As well as calling for councils to be given full autonomy to set appropriate local council tax charges and hold the first revaluations since 1991, districts should be given more freedom to levy fees and charges around planning and licensing.

DCN, which represents 200 councils, also called on ministers to ensure that welfare reforms, including Universal Credit and any forthcoming changes to disability benefit, are planned in a joined-up way at a local level.

DCN director Steve Atkinson said: “District councils have coped admirably in weathering cuts to revenue support grant of between 33% to 36% since 2010, whilst continuing to deliver outstanding local services to the communities and places they serve.

“Against the headwind of anticipated 25% to 40% funding reductions over the next full Spending Review period, we cannot rely on driving further efficiencies – that particular well is running dry after a decade of effective cost-cutting measures.

“Instead, districts must be empowered with fiscal freedoms to raise money locally and flexibilities in areas of planning, housing, economic generation to deliver long-term investment in places where local infrastructure choices would sustainably underpin future council revenue streams.”

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