Latest Public Sector News

11.09.17

Council slams Javid for ‘empty rhetoric’ and radio silence on council finances

A Basildon councillor has been left frustrated at the failure of communities secretary Sajid Javid to respond to a letter concerning council finances sent to him 10 weeks ago.

Cllr Gavin Callaghan, the authority’s Policy and Resources Committee chairman, sent the letter to the DCLG in July and followed up on the request on 16 August, but still hasn’t heard back from Javid.

The Labour councillor had asked for an early statement on the government’s plans to give councils greater control over their income following the Queen’s Speech in June, which he claimed failed to clearly set out details on the move towards 100% business rates retention.

“We have a promise to our residents to respond to letters within 10 working days,” Cllr Callaghan stated. “The secretary of state has had 10 weeks to reply and I am still waiting.  

“What we do have now is the announcement of yet further pilots – it is simply not good enough. We need certainty now, not more prevarication.”

The Basildon councillor also argued that closing a budget gap that currently stands at £4.1m is challenging enough without the added uncertainty, and that gap could grow even further if government U-turns on its local government finance settlement pledge.

“Our ability to provide the services our communities need is seriously threatened by this lack of action,” Cllr Callaghan continued. “The government was generous with its words about empowering local councils, but this looks now just like empty rhetoric. You cannot empower local councils if you impoverish them.

“This needs decisive action and fast. More pilots just kick this into the long grass when what we need is decisive action and fast.

“If the secretary of state has more to say that can offer reassurance that councils, the services they provide and the communities we provide them to, really do matter to him, then perhaps he can do me the courtesy of telling me.”

The roll-out of 100% business rates retention has been slow so far and criticised by a number of different organisations.

In July, a London Councils report said that the delivery of the policy by 2019-20 was now “unrealistic” as their will be no Local Government Finance Bill in the next two years.

The Federation of Small Businesses has also expressed frustration at the DCLG for its handling of the roll-out and demanded that Javid sort out the “shambolic delay” on a business rates relief fund made available for the firms hit hardest by changes.

DCLG has been contacted for comment by PSE but at the time of writing had not issued a response.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the open more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Driving forward a healthier Scotland

10/11/2017Driving forward a healthier Scotland

Dundee City Council is leading the way in boosting electric vehicle (EV) up... more >
A smarter approach to digital transformation

10/11/2017A smarter approach to digital transformation

Catherine Bright, Smarter Digital Services (SDS) manager, explains how a pa... more >

interviews

‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

30/06/2017‘The HSCN is the realisation of industry best practice’

Keith Smith, public sector business development manager at Virgin Media Bus... more >

the raven's daily blog

City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

22/11/2017City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

It’s been a busy day in the PSE office. Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget included a number of interesting announcements, ranging from new devolution deals and housin... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >