Letter: Accountability for local government

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article explaining some of the problems with finance in local government rightly draws attention to the limited flexibility that local authorities have in setting their council tax. This limited room for manoeuvre has prompted a number of professionals in local government to consider different methods of financing.

A possible - and radical - alternative is for local government to be funded entirely from central government grant and eliminate any local revenue raising. In return, however, local government must be given complete independence from central control in the way it delivers its services to the local people. The only formal method of achieving such a result would be, presumably, by safeguards in a written constitution for this country.

Many chief officers in local government believe it is only by this style of radical thinking that any significant improvements can be made; those wishing for a return to the past (ie, pre-capping days) are unlikely to gain support from Whitehall.

There are many who believe in the principle of local taxation, but the suggestion in this letter would increase freedom, make considerable savings and allow local government to be truly local without direct central interference in service delivery. Inevitably, there would be arguments about the method of grant distribution from central government, but whatever system is chosen it would be impossible to be worse than those used in recent years.

Yours sincerely,

DAVID MONKS

Chief Executive

North Warwickshire Borough

Council

Atherstone, Warwickshire

14 April

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