Welsh local government finance commission issues evidence call

22 Sep 15
An independent commission examining the future of local government finance in Wales has today issued a call for evidence as it starts its work.

The Independent Commission on Local Government Finance Wales has been formed to consider reforms to make local authorities more self-sufficient. Under the current system, authorities receive grant funding from the Welsh Government and locally raise council tax.

The commission, which is being supported by CIPFA, would like to hear from interested parties by 16 October on the current sustainability of local government funding

Commission chair Tony Travers said the examination provides an opportunity to suggest better funding arrangements as reorganisation plans for local government are considered.

“Everyone relies on local government services, and it is important that council tax, grants and other income operate in a fair and consistent way,” Travers said. “We will be considering a range of possible changes, including possibly radical ones. People in Wales deserve local government which is accountable and where people have more influence over how the Welsh government and councils use the taxes they pay.”

Chris Tidswell, head of CIPFA Wales, highlighted that the mechanisms for funding local government had been in place for a number of years.

“Reorganisation, financial pressure and service demands driven by economic and demographic change mean that the time is right to review arrangements,” he said.

“Local decisions on the allocation of resources to support local services and local priorities is essential and, as such, the equity and application of funding to local authorities needs to be both responsive and allow local policy decisions,” Tidswell added.

The commission will consider the strengths and weaknesses of the current local government finance system, and look at options for changes to both revenue and capital expenditure to increase self-sufficiency. The group will also consider how changes could encourage greater economic growth and improve public services.

As well as Travers, commission members include Chris Hurst, the former finance director for health, social care and children in Wales, George Boyne, professor of public sector management at Cardiff University, and Gill Lewis, a current CIPFA council member and former senior partner at the Wales Audit Office.

Former Gwynedd Council chief executive Harry Thomas, PwC partner Lynn Pamment, and New Local Government Network director Simon Parker are also members of the panel.

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