Local Power, Local Cash

    Revitalised local government is essential if many of the
    government’s aims are to succeed. Public faith in politicians and
    their institutions is fragile. The need to restore the link in
    people’s minds between their vote and the services that affect
    their lives is urgent. Local democracy is the place to start.

    However, the extra funding announced for local authorities does not
    solve councils’ problems. For some, it won’t even put them on

    Those facing steep improvement curves, particularly where
    instability in staffing is a factor in poor performance, will have
    difficulty investing in staff, particularly given the demand for
    efficiency savings.

    In the longer term, this cycle of short-term funding demands
    from local government and threats of capping from the centre,
    undermines local democracy and the relationship between central and
    local government.

    The solution is what councils advocate: a restoration of the
    link between locally accountable decisions and locally raised funds
    to implement them. It is to be hoped that the Lyons review of local
    government funding will support this.

    But even if it does, there is a danger that the government’s
    impetus towards greater localism which sidesteps local democracy,
    along with constant short-term wrangling over money, will have
    dealt a fatal blow to the public’s perception of local government
    before the Lyons review can be implemented.

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