Latest Public Sector News

15.04.15

Councils to get more power over revenue and spending if Lib Dems win election

More power over revenue and spending will be given to councils, along with a right to demand devolution from Whitehall, if the Lib Dems form part of the next government.

Nick Clegg launched his party’s manifesto today and it includes plans to use the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Local Government Finance to reform council finances and find better ways to fund local services in England.

The commission, which was formed by CIPFA and the Local Government Association, released its final report in February, which sets out plans for a 10-year programme of devolution under which more than £200bn of public money is put in councils’ hands.

The manifesto also pledges to remove the requirement to hold a local referendum on a council tax rise of 2% or higher, and to devolve skills funding and back-to-work support to authorities and local enterprise partnerships.

Under a Lib Dem government a new ‘Devolution Demand’ power would be introduced “enabling even greater devolution of powers from Westminster to councils or groups of councils working together”.

This would form part of a Whitehall process “to deliver greater devolution of financial responsibility to English local authorities, and any new devolved bodies in England, building on the work of the Independent Commission on Local Government Finance”.

Launching the manifesto, Clegg said: “This manifesto is a blueprint for a stronger economy and a fairer society. This manifesto is a plan to finish the job of balancing the books, and to do so fairly by protecting our schools, hospitals and public services.”

Other key promises of the Lib Dems include a balanced budget on the current account by 2017-18; £8bn extra spending for the NHS including equal status for mental health; a real terms increase in education department spending in line with increase in pupils by 2020; and five green laws including the decarbonisation of electricity.

(Image source: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

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