Thursday, June 27, 2013

Whatever happened to the Coalition's commitment to localism?

More and more, the Coalition agreement reads like the blueprint for the government Britain needed but did not get.

Take the introduction to the section on communities and local government:
The Government believes that it is time for a fundamental shift of power from Westminster to people. We will promote decentralisation and democratic engagement, and we will end the era of top-down government by giving new powers to local councils, communities, neighbourhoods and individuals.
What we have seen instead is Eric Pickles threatening to strip local councils of their planning powers and hand them to a centralised planning inspectorate.

And we have seen deep cuts in local government funding while many central government budgets are protected.

As Matthew Oakeshott says behind The Times paywall today:
Ring-fenced spending will be half the total in 2015-16. It's nonsense: no self-respecting finance director would run a business with half its overheads untouchable; no Chancellor should either.
The reason for this ring-fencing of central government budgets is the weakness of politicians and political system. To get elected David Cameron had to promise he would not spend less than Labour in many areas: in the hope of getting elected next time Labour is now promising it will not spend more.

One answer would be for local councils to raise more of their own revenue, but there is currently no prospect of any government tackling that question.

So local government continues to suffer and there is money for vanity projects like HS2 while local bus services are cut.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So the Coalition Agreement is just a worthless bit of paper prepared by politicians driven by expediency? Good heavens, I am truly, deeply shocked.