Is it time to change the way local authorities are funded?

Local authorities provide most of the public services that people use on a day to day basis. From highways to children’s services, social care to street cleaning and libraries to waste disposal it’s all provided by local authorities so are many other services.

Funding for local authorities is from our council tax and a government grant.

The funding from central government is reducing year on year. Some say this is a good thing as it forces the local authorities to make savings and become more efficient. Others blame these cuts on the reducing level of services being provided.

I think both are true. Initially government cuts drove efficiencies, the like never been seen before. But have they gone too far and are now no loner efficiency savings but cuts to much needed services. Of course it will depend on where you live and how much public money is thought adequate county by county.

Some political parties prefer more public spending and others less. Over time this has had an effect geographically.

So perhaps it is time to remove the central government funding completely. This funding always seemed to come with some strings attached and its administration always felt clumsy and wasteful. Often money was offered but it had to be spent in certain ways to meet the designs of national politicians rather than the communities it was meant for.

Perhaps national tax should be reduced by the amount of the council grants and substituted with a local tax. We already have the council tax, which could be put up. Or perhaps a local sales tax or local income tax might sort it out. Others better aware of these choices can comment further.

But what local funding for local services would provide is local accountability against local priorities. If local people like them they would vote for them or of course against if they objected resulting in a change of direction.

Of course, the one local service we all enjoy remains nationally funded and nationally controlled and has little input from local people and that’s the NHS. A discussion for another day I guess.

One thought on “Is it time to change the way local authorities are funded?

  1. A policy I’ve been encouraging for years. I’d like to see VAT scrapped and Council Tax scrapped and the pair replaced with a local Sales Tax. This would allow communities to use tax competition to bring in business, would finally provide an incentive for low tax, and would allow areas and their political establishments to decide which model to go for (and stand for election on that plan.)


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