It is not just significantly enhanced revenue-raising powers that local government needs (Editorial, 2 May), but fundamental financial reform. Here, our local authority has lost more than £500m of government funding since 2010. Councils in poor areas are obliged to seek ever increasing sums from poor people. With little government help to councils, no wonder budgets are extremely tight for the provision of services.
The Westminster politicians leading the Labor party should be following the lead of Scottish Labor and calling for the abolition of the council tax and its replacement with a fairer local levy linked to property values and ability to pay. Why should the NHS be funded out of general taxation, but social care by local taxpayers, many struggling to make ends meet? Why should those resident in lower band housing have to subsidise those in grander properties?
Councils need to have access to funding out of national taxation, and powers to enable them to deliver sorely needed social housing for rent.
In your leader you write about top-heavy government structures. In Cumbria next year it’s going to get worse. Cumbria county council is to be abolished and the six district councils are to be replaced by two unitary authorities. Perhaps that is a good thing, but the government has dictated the regional boundaries, ignoring local views. Worse still is the drastic reduction in the number of councilors. Maybe we do have too many and some reduction is justifiable. Here in Stanwix (north Carlisle) we have three city councilors, one of whom is also a county councillor. But in the new authority there’s going to be just one. I suppose it’s all about saving money, not about improving democracy.
Local government is a nuisance as far as Westminster is concerned. Forty years ago I lived in the Netherlands and I cannot help but note the stability of government structures there compared with the way there has been continuous tinkering here since 1974, all about giving central government more power at the expense of local democracy.
Ian K Watson