The main parties at the Local Government Association (LGA) could turn next year’s local elections into a ‘mini referendum on fair funding for all councils’, according to the director of the Political Skills Forum.
Writing online for The MJ, Paul Wheeler said that with the elections planned for earlier this year deferred until next year, ‘the comprehensive nature of next year’s elections gives councillors ‘a golden opportunity to agree a joint statement on what is needed for effective local services’.
He added: ‘There will always be political debate on how the money is spent, but we desperately need to get away from allowing central government to play one set of councils off against another.’
Mr Wheeler said it was evident the pandemic had ‘blown a huge hole in the patchwork quilt that was local government finance’. The crisis had not only ‘exposed the dangerous reliance on an outdated property tax and an unrealistic burden on local businesses’, but it had also ‘collapsed the strategy of many councils on building a revenue stream from services and commercial investments’.
He added: ‘It hasn’t helped that the Government now appears to have gone back on its word to council leaders to support the extra financial costs associated with supporting its local communities during the early stages of the pandemic.’