Workforce, Pensions and Training

03.07.19

LGA chair Jamieson calls for higher taxes and greater freedoms for councils to tackle austerity

Local authorities must be given “more powers, funding” and the freedom to raise council taxes in order to tackle the widespread challenges facing councils, the new chair of the Local Government Association (LGA) has said.

Speaking at the LGA Annual Conference 2019, James Jamieson called on central government to relinquish control over local taxation, inject bullions of pounds into adult social care and devolve powers over local health services to councils.

Jamieson, the new leader of the LGA Conservative party, said greater control over health integration, prevention and mental health strategies is vital in helping councils protect elderly and vulnerable people. “It is a measure of a good society, how well it treats its most vulnerable,” he stated.

Jamieson argued for a reversal of cuts to Sure-Start early-years family support services and for a review of special education services funding.

Today the LGA also set the government a ten-week deadline to publish the heavily delayed social green paper.

Jamieson, the leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, said the current council tax referendum cap of 2.99% ought to be scrapped in order to combat funding cuts that have seen councils lose 60p out of every £1.

He also paid tribute to his predecessor, Lord Porter, who is now standing down after four years, with Jamieson calling him “a giant for local government for 18 years.”

READ MORE: Councils Can: LGA launches Spending Review campaign

Also speaking at the LGA 2019 Conference, communties secretary James Brokenshire said he recognised councils’ uncertainty over funding, and that he believed a “reset” was needed in the relationship between central and local government.

He stated that the next prime minister must produce a green paper to “look afresh at the entire ecosystem underpinning local government,” to spot problems earlier, champion best practice and help each other improve.

Brokenshire argued that central government could and should be doing more to identify councils that are struggling financially, and that the local audit system could also be reinvented.

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