Local Government – no fat anymore

Only the 'bare bones' are left within local authorities and the property sector is already feeling the effects of underfunding such as reduced resources for planning, says Ian Fletcher.

I don't often recommend parliamentary documents as good reads. The subject matter can be rather dry, but a recent report (Financial Distress in Local Authorities) by the Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities Select Committee is worth a read. It exposes an issue which has long troubled me, and I think has deep implications for the property development and investment sector – the state of local authority finances.

I was brought into a business life where the common-held view was that local authorities were inefficient and overweight, and for reasons of cutting taxes, or prioritising other spending, that fat should be trimmed. Fast forward 30-odd years, and when I look at local authorities now, I only see bare bone. If there is fat, it is well hidden!

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