There is an interesting article from the Prime Minister in today’s Observer, setting out progress and plans for decentralisation. In the paragraph on local government David Cameron hints at local government finance reform amongst other things. Note the sequencing… power to neighbourhoods, then ‘after that’ power to local government.
“We’re giving more power to neighbourhoods. Neighbours will be able to shape the look and feel of local housing developments, take over the running of local parks and post offices, and generate their own energy. After that, we will give more power to local government. Of course, some argue that the greatest power of all would be to let local government raise more of its own revenue and decide how to spend it. This raises many questions and we won’t find the answers overnight. But judge us by what we’ve already done – like ending excessive ring-fencing of local budgets and giving councils new powers to set up banks and own assets. This isn’t tinkering. People have been taken aback by the speed and extent of what Eric Pickles is doing, for instance, in abolishing the Audit Commission. And, in terms of revenue, we are allowing councils to keep money when they attract business to their area or build new homes”