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22.02.16

LGA confirms it will stay neutral on EU referendum

Mark Lloyd, the chief executive of the Local Government Association (LGA), stated on Twitter that “the LGA will maintain a position of neutrality” on the forthcoming referendum on whether Britain should stay in the EU.

Recently, Lloyd told PSE that retaining councils as members of the LGA depends on representing them effectively. He also added that over the course of this Parliament local authorities are likely to be faced with tough decisions to implement service reductions, as opposed to delivering efficiencies.

His comment on the EU referendum comes after research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggested that the new European Union deal has failed to convince members of the public.

In a statement, the think tank said that prime minister, David Cameron, had gained some success in negotiating new restrictions for benefits for EU migrants in Britain, but that research participants were “unimpressed” with the deal.

The IPPR’s findings come as Cameron set a date (23 June) for the referendum on whether Britain should stay in the EU, which is set to divide the population. A new survey from the Institute of Directors (IoD) found that 60% of business leaders intend to vote to stay in the EU, although 42% said the agreement Update Livehad not influenced that decision and 54% said it made no difference to their organisation.

Marley Morris, a research fellow at IPRR, said: “The discussions came down to finding agreement on some highly technical issues on the rules for benefit payments to EU migrants. It's doubtful that these reforms will significantly bring down migration from the rest of the EU. But our research suggests that the public care about the issue of benefits in principle, because they see the current rules as unfair on Britain, and so the changes are an important part of the final deal.

“On the other hand, when discussing the draft deal with some of our research participants in Peterborough, they were unimpressed with the details of the emergency brake – particularly when they discovered that its use had to be authorised by other member states.

“The question now is whether, in the public’s mind, these changes will be perceived as a credible effort to address concerns or as too complicated and insubstantial to fully convince.”

The IoD survey found that business leaders were similarly unsure about the effectiveness of the changes. When asked if they supported the agreement’s aim of lowering administrative burdens and repealing unnecessary legislation, 82% replied that they were strongly in favour, but when asked to measure, out of five, their confidence that effective action would be taken, only 11% replied with a four or five and 40% replied with a one (‘not at all confident’.)

As reported recently by PSE, the Civil Service will not have to abide by ‘purdah’ rules, or restrictions on civil servants’ activity that favour a particular outcome, in the run-up to the referendum.

The EU agreement includes a requirement for child benefit payments to migrants for children living overseas to be linked to the cost of living in their home country (instead of stopped altogether as Cameron originally wanted) and an emergency seven-year brake on in-work benefits to migrants (although Cameron wanted a four-year restriction). It also includes protection for the City of London from Eurozone regulations and a commitment that the UK will not be part of ‘ever closer union’ with EU nations.

 

 

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