Survey finds local councils need to start charging for services to balance books

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8th March 2016 17:12 - Local Government

According to the findings of a recent local government survey, 90 per cent of local councils will have to start charging for services, and increase council tax, in order to balance the books.Survey finds local councils need to start charging for services to balance books

Entitled The 2016 State of Local Government Finance survey, the market research also discovered that 82 per cent of councils will be forced to use reserves in order to make ends meet.

The market research survey was conducted by The Municipal Journal (the MJ), in partnership with The Local Government information Unit (LGiU).

The survey revealed that nearly all of the local councils that are eligible are planning on adopting the 2 per cent social care precept. Of the respondents, 75 per cent said that the additional money will not be enough to remedy the funding gap within adult social care.

Chief Executive of The Local Government information Unit, Jonathan Car-West, said of the market research findings:

Local government finance is a mess. Our research shows that right now councils are cobbling together their finances by using reserves and increasing charging wherever they can.

“The system we have now is one which no one would design. Central government and local authorities both want to see a sustainable independent funding model. But until we answer fundamental questions about how to make this work, devolution will be a process rather than a revolution.”

The survey also uncovered that 60 per cent of local councils believe that they can be self-sufficient financially by 2020; however, this can only happen if the local government is granted more power over charging, raising local taxes and trading.

Editor of The Municipal Journal, Heather Jameson, said of the survey: “Town halls want to be self-financing, but they need the tools to do so – and they need to be free of Whitehall diktat. Local government needs to be free to charge and trade and control its own income.

“The Government talks a good game when it comes to devolution, but let’s see them put their money where their mouth is and sort out local government finances.”

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