LGIU makes pitch for “radical” debate on council finance

23 Jul 18

The debate about local government finance needs to be broad and radical, the Local Government Information Unit has said.

The think-tank today launched its Local Finance Scorecard as means of kick-starting a debate on “big ideas” for local government finance and funding in the post-2020 era.

The scorecard covers five areas:

 

  • business rates, including full retention or allowing councils to set their own rates;
  • council tax, including rebanding and revaluation;
  • innovative funding such as municipal bonds and multi-year budgets;
  • rethinking the division of responsibility and money between central and local government, including health and care integration and place-based budgets;
  • other local taxes such as tourism and local sales taxes.

 

An accompanying report looks at the various advantages and disadvantages of these measures, examines who would benefit as well as political and technical feasibility.

Each option is given a score out of 10 based on feasibility and impact.

Jonathan Carr-West, LGIU chief executive, said: “Confidence in the local government finance system is low…. In 2018, eight out of ten [council leaders and senior officers] told us that the local government finance system in its current form was unsustainable.

“Important changes are happening. Business rate retention and the Fairer Funding Review are significant steps towards reforming local government finance; but we believe that to achieve a sustainable system we need a much broader and more radical conversation post 2020.”

The options laid out in the scorecard needed to all be “part of the discussion”, he said.

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