Cuts, council tax and local democracy

The big beasts of the centre-right stir into life before the budget. Policy Exchange argues that George Osborne should cut the £50 billion middle-class welfare bill. Reform agrees and goes further. It argues for a radical streamlining of public services and, interestingly, funding a greater proportion of local government services from council tax. They argue…

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World This Weekend: libraries

I discussed reform of libraries on The World This Weekend with author Michael Morpurgo. The item starts at 17 minutes 50 seconds on i-Player. “We have a £163bn deficit. Of the £6.6bn worth of cuts that George Osborne has asked for £1.2bn are coming out of local government. That’s one pound in every five. “So…

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Bob Neil: “those in greatest need ultimately bear the burden of paying off the debt”

Bob Neil’s in trouble for telling the House of Commons that “those in greatest need ultimately bear the burden of paying off the debt”. There’s been a furious reaction to his comment. But, sadly, he’s right. The poorest will suffer most from inevitable tax rises and cuts in public services. Poor people already pay more…

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Coalition Local Government Bill defeated in Lords

A slip-up for the new government. The coalition has suffered its first defeat in the House of Lords. It failed to block a measure that will hold-up its Bill to prevent the creation of new unitary authorities in Norwich, Exeter and Ipswich. The government will undoubtedly be irritated by this result. But there’ll probably also…

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BNP fifth largest party in the UK

The BNP has been written off as an electoral force after the last election (including by me). It’s true that it lost all its seats on Barking and Dagenham Council and failed to return leader Nick Griffin as an MP. But, as Professor of Government at the University of Oxford Vernon Bogdanor points out, numbers…

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First 100 days of the new Government – what does it mean for you?

Yesterday the LGiU held a seminar to examine what policies the coalition administration would implement in its first 100 days. This was the first of two seminars exploring the programme of the new Government. The second event is entitled What does the Queens’ Speech mean for you? and is being held on the 16 July…

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‘You and Yours’ programme on localism

I appeared on the Radio 4 You and Yours programme on localism today.  It is a phone in programme and there were lots of interesting points raised.

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Michael Gove’s academy proposals

Michael Gove wants every school in the country to become an academy. The announcement has met with mixed reactions: rapture from some heads, a shrug from most, and fury from the Unions. I’m open minded. There are, however, a couple of big circles that need squaring. First, local authorities don’t just do strategic oversight. They…

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Richard Sykes resignation

The health budget. It’s to David Cameron what Lennie was to George and what Private Pike was to his Mum. A budget to be protected, cosseted and shielded from harm. Of course, this has a cost. It means that every other unprotected budget must take more of the pain. There are, however, a couple of…

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